The UN Deputy Military Advisor, Major-General Maureen O’Brien (Ireland), arrived on 12 September from UN Headquarters for a three-week visit to MINURSO. It’s not General O’Brien’s first time in Western Sahara. As a young Captain, she herself served as a Military Observer in MINURSO at MAHBAS and SMARA Teams Sites in 2000. “While unfortunate that the UN's presence is still necessary in the region 22 years after I served here, it has been great to return to one of the places where I served in the early years of my UN peacekeeping career”.
Since her arrival, General O’Brien has visited Tindouf Liaison Office and four of the mission’s Team Sites. In these small camps peacekeepers from over 20 different countries live and work. "It is incredibly important to me that I visit our military personnel in the field to get an understanding of the situation from their perspective and discuss their challenges.” General O’Brien also accompanied a number of ground patrols and spoke to Team Site Commanders and the UNMOs. "The conditions our military observers are required to operate in are extremely harsh and challenging but I am always impressed by their professionalism, positive attitude and implementation of their mandated tasks despite the environment. They frequently deploy in harsh conditions for long periods to areas of significant danger for which the majority of people would struggle to comprehend--and they do so willingly in the service of peace." On 21 September, she also participated in the International Day of Peace ceremonies at the Team Site Smara – a perfect occasion to reiterate a common goal: “Our Mission is Peace!”