Every day, the women and men of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon are on the frontline to promote peace and stability in the Mission’s area of operations and along the Blue Line, while operating in a very challenging environment between Lebanon and Israel.
Of late, UNIFIL peacekeepers have been working tirelessly round-the-clock to deliver on the Mission’s mandate while taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in southern Lebanon and following the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
Lieutenant Daniel Kawabena Duodu, from the Ghanian Contingent is one of them. He has been conducting mixed-gender patrols for the Bravo Company since July 2019. This is his second deployment to UNIFIL.
The Bravo Company is based at a strategic location along the Blue Line, a very important point of call for dignitaries and visitors of nearby host communities to the UNIFIL Ghanaian Contingent camp. The company continuously monitors their area of responsibility along the Blue Line by carrying out day and night patrols.
For him, serving with UNIFIL as patrol commander has been one of the most extraordinary experiences of his career.
He, like many of his fellow peacekeepers, has been trained at the Kofi Annan International Centre operating since 2002 in Accra, Ghana, before getting deployed to UNIFIL. He brings to the mission, operational and academic knowledge on peace operation experiences, conflict management, as well, as tactical peace and security skills.
Every day, Lieutenant Duodu takes instructions from UNIFIL Ghanaian Contingent Tactical Operations Center, known as TOC.
“As the patrol commander, I take instructions from the Officer Commanding (OC) and he/she provides me with the proper guidance, and instructions. My role is to translate those instructions into action plans while working together with my troops on the ground,” he explains.
These actions are taken to ensure safety and to maintain mission readiness.
“It is important that as a foot patrol unit, we continue to find innovative ways to better work together, especially when coordinating activities with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), so in order for our patrols to be more efficient and impactful, I coordinate in-mission training to keep my troops highly motivated and therefore improve performance. This has been of paramount importance for our efficacy,” he added.
Committed fully to serve for peace
Daniel strongly believes that being deployed on a second term, brings an added value into their mandated activities while implementing the Mission’s mandate.
“The majority of our peacekeepers have served previously with the Mission, so they bring already existing strategic knowledge and experience to UNIFIL,” he described.
Patrols are the most visible component of UNIFIL’s operational activities. Ghanaian peacekeepers continue to carry out daily patrols in close coordination with the LAF to help maintain calm and stability in southern Lebanon.
Ghana is the oldest and currently one of the largest contributing countries, serving UNIFIL with over 850 troops. Out of this, 115 are women peacekeepers, making Ghana the largest contingent with the highest number of women peacekeepers.
Since their arrival in Lebanon in 1978, the Ghanaian contingent has carried out several operational and humanitarian activities, such as conducting patrols along the Blue line, social donations, health outreaches, capacity building in support of the LAF and other governmental institutions, among others.
With close to Ghanaian 3,000 UN peacekeepers deployed to nine peacekeeping missions, for Lieutenant Daniel Kawabena, “it has been an extraordinary opportunity and a pleasure to serve in UNIFIL, especially during these trying times, making personal sacrifices in the service of peace and the collective good. Our host communities depend on us to provide security, calm and stability, and we will not let them down.”