By: Samira Y. Salifu
Private Kylie Friel, a 24-year-old in the Irish Defence Forces and originally from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, serves with the 67 Infantry Group of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan. A newcomer to UN peacekeeping, she is enjoying the different life it presents with its lessons and rewards. For her, the phrase “the world is your oyster” finds true meaning every day in the field, because challenges can be overcome and everything is achievable with hard work and the unflinching support of fellow comrades.
“I have always had an ardent interest in fitness, so a career in the Irish Army was appealing to me. Serving overseas with the United Nations was also a source of interest.
Today, I am a member of the Quick Reaction Force of UNDOF. Our work is structured around being on call in case of emergencies, with a 15-minute notice to be on the move, so we live ready.
The morning starts with breakfast, then a parade, which is followed by an equipment and armoured car inspection. Next, we delve into the day’s intensive training program of military skills and drills, physical fitness, among others.
Everything we do is geared towards preparing for our patrols in the UNDOF area of operations, so there is a lot of focus on rehearsing scenarios that we might encounter while engaged in peacekeeping duties.
Working under the scorching sun can be long and tiring, but extremely rewarding, nonetheless. In fact, I have a renewed appreciation for what I have at home by merely observing the situation in the assigned area and the effects of the civil war.
This is certainly far from home in Ireland and, sometimes, I miss the cooking at home and of course my family. But I stay active by socializing with friends in the Irish canteen and taking part in the regularly organized events in the camp like quizzes, cultural events and welfare travel tours.
Most importantly, the opportunity to experience this new way of life, and the rich and diverse cultures and lifestyles has been priceless.
I have been blessed to travel to many places and I realize that no matter the colour, race or creed of the people, we are all the same. We have the same hopes and aspirations, and fears and concerns. So, be kind to people and your kindness will be returned tenfold.”
For 75 years, UN peacekeepers have worked alongside international partners, community leaders and Member States to save and change lives in the world’s most fragile political and security situations. These are ordinary people striving to achieve extraordinary outcomes in often difficult and dangerous situations. They are People for Peace, and these are their stories.