The attention of the Defence Headquarters, Gambia Armed Forces has been drawn to a circulation on social media of a purported siphoning of peacekeeping funds by the leadership of the Gambia Armed Forces. The same medium also further alleged that personnel of the Gambia Armed Forces currently serving in Darfur are engaged in sexual misconduct. These allegations are completely false and clearly a mischief intended to misinform, cause disaffection and blackmail the armed forces.
A Preliminary investigation has revealed that the allegation comes on the heels of the releasing of the list of 76 personnel, who are currently serving in Darfur but are due to be repatriated in December. It is alleged that the report was master minded by those affected by the repatriation or their cronies to discredit the process.
The United Nations African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is coming to closure after achieving its ultimate peacekeeping objectives in Sudan. As customary in all UN deployments like in Liberia, Lebanon and East Timor, the mission in Darfur is expected to be downsized The downsizing entails reducing troop size of all countries to be in tandem with the new roles of the mission. It is against this backdrop that The Gambia Armed Forces has been ordered by the UN to repatriate 76 out of 208 of her personnel on or before 27 December 2018.
The Gambia Armed Forces upon receipt of this notification started working out modalities for the downsizing of its troops. A board was convened to provide guidelines to the contingent commander for repatriation. Key among the guidelines issued to the commander was to drawdown those who have multiple mission experiences, so that they will give way to those who have no mission experience at all. Secondly, he should also include those who are not medically very fit, because the remaining months of the mission are going to be challenging. As such those who have developed medical conditions during the period while in Darfur are to be downsized. Thirdly, he was also asked to withdraw those who will be redundant as a result of the changes in the missions mandate. Finally he was also tasked to take into consideration the 15 percent United Nations female deployment policy.
Currently, there are 18 females as part of the contingent, which is in line with UN policy. However, due to the proposed drawdown, only 3 females are to be repatriated to conform to the policy. The same guideline was also used to downsize the female composition of the contingent without prejudice or ill will.
Furthermore, The Gambia Armed Forces, like any troop contributing country to UN missions enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UN. The UN hires the services of militaries and pays subventions directly to their home countries. This subvention reimburses not only the soldier as an individual but the equipment and other resources deployed by the country’s military. It is usual for Armed Forces to deduct a percentage of the subventions to maintain its equipment and procure additional hardware for subsequent deployment. Consequently, The Gambia Armed Forces, previously was deducting 30% of this enumeration but this has been reduced to bare maximum of 10% by directives from the new political dispensation.
It is essential to inform the general public that in no distant future heavy equipment will start arriving into the country to support the Gambia Armed Forces enter new frontiers in peacekeeping. As the Darfur mission is closing the leadership of the Gambia Armed Forces is at an advance stage of negotiation with partners to get more peacekeeping slots and equipment for their personnel.
The general public is therefore advised to disregard these allegations as misleading and frivolous and a mere attempt to dent the reputation of the Gambia Armed Forces. The Gambia Armed Forces remains a professional force conscious of its domestic and international responsibilities. It remains committed to the core principles and values of nation building and to ensure our beloved Gambia remains a beacon of peace and stability.
Omar B Bojang