Major Caroline Komsana has worked with the South African National Defence Force (Air Force) for 20 years. This is her fourth deployment to a UN peacekeeping mission. In this short interview, Major Komsana speaks of her dual role as Chief CIMIC Officer and Gender Focal Point, Sector North, as well as her commitment to the cause of peace.
Q: Tell us a bit about your work with UNAMID.
A: As Chief CIMIC Officer, I collaborate with UNAMID’s civilian peacekeepers and UN Country Team partners to devise, facilitate and monitor projects that benefit local communities across Darfur. Such projects primarily include rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, free medical campaigns and providing access to water for those in need. These community stabilization efforts are mostly actioned through UNAMID’s Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) programme. Additionally, in my capacity as Gender Focal Point, I facilitate training sessions for the Mission’s military peacekeepers on specific security risks faced by Darfuri women such as conflict-related sexual violence. I sensitize them on key issues such as sexual exploitation and abuse and ensure gender perspectives are part of all military interactions with the local populace.
Q: What, do you feel, are some of your biggest achievements in your career with UN peacekeeping?
A: In the past year, I have personally overseen the handover of projects such as the rehabilitation of a girl’s school and a fully-equipped clinic for women and girls in North Darfur. These are very close to my heart. I am also involved in facilitation of the ongoing projects which include the establishment of a primary school for returnees, rehabilitation of existing schools and the rehabilitation of a drug control Centre. I feel that such efforts to improve the lives of Darfuris go a long way in reinforcing UNAMID’s mandate delivery.
Q: In your opinion, why is it important to invest in peace?
A: The absence of peace implies an absence of hope, in my opinion. Peacekeeping, peace building and conflict prevention are, therefore, essential prerequisites to bring hope to people living in conflict-affected regions across the world. Only a peaceful society can ensure that its inhabitants enjoy their human rights, socio-economic freedom and unbiased rule of law institutions. As Nelson Mandela said, “We commit ourselves to the construction of a just, lasting peace.” It is this commitment that motivates me every day in Darfur.