The National, Wednesday 19th September 2012
FOUR PNG Defence Force officers will join the United Nations peacekeeping teams in Sudan and South Sudan in the coming weeks, Defence Minister Fabian Pok said yesterday.
Major Kinsley Wawada and Lt Commander Talatiu Gaileko would take up staff officer and observer roles in UNAMID in Darfur region, Sudan.
Major Raphael Yapu and Major John Bindie would be sent to observer positions in UNMISS in South Sudan.
All four officers had been accepted by the UN for mid-level planning or leadership duties, the minister said in a statement yesterday.
“This reflects the confidence that the UN is developing – reinforced by the distinguished service of the initial PNGDF UN peacekeepers that deployed last year – for the skills and professionalism of the PNGDF,” Pok said.
He said the government saw ongoing PNGDF contributions to UN missions with a combination of responsibility and pride.
“A nation’s security is never separate from the security of others in the region, nor is it separate from the security of the global community as a whole,” Pok said.
“When the government stood up last year and responded to the UN request for PNG to contribute towards the security well-being of people far beyond our own shores, it elevated PNG and the PNGDF into higher levels of security responsibility and commitment.
“It is a source of pride, and a reflection on the strategic-level work successfully undertaken by PNGDF commander, Brig-Gen Francis Agwi, as well as the demonstrated quality of our initial peacekeepers, that the UN is seeking ongoing peace roles from PNG.
“Just as the Kumul is flying high in the UN peace missions in Sudan and South Sudan, we all in PNG can justifiably hold our heads high.”
Pok said within the next few weeks, the National Executive Council would be requested to extend and to increase PNG’s current UN peacekeeping contributions.
Defence and foreign affairs staff had completed a proposal that would continue PNG’s commitment into the two Sudanese missions for another 24 months.
Agwi said he was driving the PNGDF to meet government requirements domestically and off-shore, and UN operations are a part of that.
“UN peacekeeping will be a relatively permanent role for a mature defence force.”