By Lance Corporal (LCpl) Louisa Murphy.
This piece is part of our May campaign highlighting women in peacekeeping, leading up to the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on 29 May.
As one of the battlegroup clerks of Sector 2, my job involves a lot. I am part of the team responsible for tracking, supporting, and administering our 250 personnel, split between my camp in the middle of Nicosia and the United Nations Protected Area (as the British Contingent supplies the Force Commander’s Mobile Force Reserve). This work often sees me going through spreadsheet after spreadsheet at my desk, getting to grips with both the UN’s and the British Army’s internal systems of monitoring and recording personnel. Getting it right is vital. Without the efforts of me and my team, no one would get paid!
I volunteered to go on what the British Army calls Op TOSCA for a number of reasons. I have never been on an operational tour before, and, as a Reservist, this was one of those now quite rare opportunities that I felt I had to grab. I am also considering transferring to the Regular Army, so the experience – both professional and personal – is important to my future plans. I have gained a lot of insight about different aspects of the Army. I have also enjoyed meeting new people from different backgrounds and have greatly benefited from working as part of a team far larger from what I am used to at my Army Reserve Centre in Oxfordshire, in the heart of rural England.
I also understand the importance of peacekeeping. It never ceases to surprise me how recent the hostilities in Cyprus actually were, and how raw some of the wounds still must be. Cyprus may well be considered a ‘frozen conflict,’ but the conflict has only been stopped from warming-up because of the efforts of generations of UNFICYP peacekeepers. Scenes from streets like Kykkos Avenue in the Buffer Zone – houses and shops abandoned in a rush – really bring home what war means for the innocent people caught-up in it. I would argue that maintaining the credibility and effectiveness of the UN as a peacekeeping force is a moral duty. I am proud to be here.
Day-to-day life on camp is busy but can also be quite fun. We are lucky to have an outside gym, excellent food courtesy of our wonderful chefs, and all feel part of a common cause. Coronavirus has meant that we have not yet had the chance to explore Nicosia, so we’ve very much had to make camp our home. We hardly have it any worse than our friends and family back home, and the fact that we’ve found ourselves looking after a large gang of cats and a dog has been a welcome surprise!