Juba, 21 July 2017
Officers, airwomen and men of Rwanda Aviation Unit - 5 (RAU 5) serving under UNMISS were awarded UN Peacekeeping Medals in recognition of their remarkable services in support of the UNMISS mandate. The colorful ceremony held in South Sudan, Juba on 21 July 2017 was presided over by His Excellency Mustapha SOUMARE, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General in charge of political affairs.
According to the Contingent Commander, Lt Col Innocent MUNYENGANGO who welcomed the audience to the RAU5 Base Camp and ceremony, the UN medal recipient unit is the fifth of this nature. It is composed of 165 personnel among them eight ladies, all with various trades; pilots, aircraft technicians, logisticians, support staff. The unit operates 6 Military Utility Helicopters from two bases; JUBA as the Main Operating Base (MOB) and Malakal as the Forward Operating Base (FOB).
For the last 11 months of a year-long tour of duty, the unit transported around 13,473 passengers and airlifted 1,359 tons of cargo from and to different places of the entire UNMISS area of responsibility with a total of 3,549 flown hours. All these hours were logged performing tasks that included air movement of UN, AU, UNMISS personnel, airlifting cargo, rotating military troops, inserting and extracting troops, performing medical evacuations, conducting reconnaissance missions just to mention but a few.
In his keynote address, H.E Moustapha SOUMARE conveyed his sincere gratitude to the Government of Rwanda for its commitment to United Nations’ work globally with currently 6,256 peacekeepers committed to UN Missions worldwide with 2,288 members serving under UNMISS. He also recognized the performance of Rwanda Aviation Unit that plays critical role to the success of UNMISS.
“The RAU5 has had a positive effect on tens of thousands lives of South Sudanese, a country with an environment where airlift is critical due to the poor road network and security situation”, he said before noting “this should set an example for others to emulate, a fact that RAU should be proud of”.
He also commended the effort of the eight proud female members of the contingent and highlighted the need for more Rwandan females to be deployed to UNMISS, recognizing the role and contribution of female personnel in a place like South Sudan.
The ceremony was attended by several UNMISS and UN dignitaries among them the UNMISS Force Commander, Lt Gen Frank Mushyo KAMANZI, the Military Advisor in the Office of Military Affairs from UN Headquarters in New York, Lt Gen Carlos Humberto LOITEY and UNMISS Senior military, police and civilian staff. The decorated Aviation unit will end their tour of duty on 31 August 2017.