Service and Sacrifice: Guinean peacekeepers make their mark in Mali

15 March 2019 12:35 International Desk

They are ready. Guinean peacekeepers climb into two armoured personnel carriers (APC), that would rumble out of the UN base soon.

For Guinean Sergeant Mamady Keita, the threat of landmines is always present, “No mission can be done without our presence, the road is sandy and easy for the insurgents to hide explosive devices underground, “he said standing outside his APC, his best defence during the operation.

Under a blazing sun the temperature is reaching its peak, the so-called ‘Search and Detect’ Guinean team, on foot, carefully search for explosive devices and hiding places for these bombs, looking at the sandy roads. “Out here, dropping your guard can be fatal, there is always a chance that the situation gets a turn to the worst”, Lieutenant Maurice Brehemon said.

All Guinean soldiers, like all military contingents joining MINUSMA, have to go through intense in-country pre-deployment training on explosive threats and risks. They must be prepared for anything when they arrive in Mali.

These pre-deployment training measures help to better equip the peacekeepers with skills to protect them, help them protect others and improve resilience and safety to aid in the delivery of MINUSMA’s mandate.

The job comes with daily challenges. This morning patrol was uneventful, and the Blue Helmets returned safe and sound to the base. But the next day, a UN vehicle ran over a mine. Fourteen peacekeepers were injured.

Almost 850 peacekeepers from Guinea are serving in Mali. Guinea is one of the largest contributing countries to MINUSMA. Mamady knows he is risking his life while promoting peace. Guinea is a neighbour country with strong ties to Mali. Its soldiers are often called “brothers in arms” in a regional sense.

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