By Mafugi Ceesay
The Gambia Armed Forces has finished a six-week deployment training for 132 of its members. The training ended last Friday, greenlighting the soldiers’ deployment to war-torn Darfur, Sudan next month.
The hybrid operation in Darfur is a joint African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission.
The mission was approved by the UN Security Council Resolution 1769 on 31 July 2007, to bring stability to Darfur region of Sudan, while peace talks on a final settlement continue.
And now another contingent of Gambian soldiers – Gamcoy 22- is ready for deployment.
“You are going to Darfur to give hope to the hopeless, [and] to provide humanitarian assistance to the desperate people of Darfur,” Yankuba Drammeh, the deputy chief of Defense Staff, told the graduating soldiers in his address at the Gambia Armed Forces Training School, (Gafts) in Fajara.
He expressed hope that the training helps equip the soldiers – both mentally and physically – for Darfur.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God,” he said, quoting the Gospel of Matthew. “This [mission] is a noble gesture to give a helping hand to others in hostile zones. Be proud to be a helper to the desperate and be ready to stand for the truth and help the needy.
“Continue to work hard in order to keep the flag of The Gambia high.”
He advised the troop to “respect the culture and tradition of the people they are going to meet in Sudan.”
Sharon Wardle, the British High Commissioner in The Gambia, lauded the army for “showing professionalism in all your peace keeping missions.”
Lieutenant Paul Gomez, Gafts commander, highlighted how the officers have been “shaped” after six weeks of training.
He said: “We are always able to maintain the good image of GAF because of the pre-trainings that the officers under go before living The Gambia.
He described the region of Darfur and the situation there as “unpredictable,” urging “vigilance” in the troop, “work as a family and be each other’s keeper.