|Việt Nam debuts the Vietnamese engineering unit rotation 1 in November to be deployed to UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan. — VNA/VNS Photo Trọng Đức|
Việt Nam's engagement in UN peacekeeping operations over the past seven years has achieved many positive results, and at the same time opened up many new directions of deployment.
Deputy Director of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations Mạc Đức Trọng spoke to Vietnam News Agency about these achievements.
Việt Nam has recently sent a military engineering unit to join a UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan for the first time, marking a new development in expertise. What is the meaning of Việt Nam’s expansion of participation in such peacekeeping missions, and the establishment of the military engineering unit?
Compared to the level-2 field hospitals that Việt Nam has deployed before, the military engineering unit is larger in number, with 184 professional officers and soldiers.
In terms of equipment, the unit will deploy about 2,000 tonnes of equipment to the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), including around 150 machines.
In terms of expertise, the key tasks of the military engineering unit are building roads and barracks for the UN, performing road transport missions and building humanitarian works for local citizens and works for UN organisations where the unit is stationed.
The preparation for the unit was made from 2017, including selection of personnel, training and purchase of new equipment. A long time for preparation is a huge advantage. Besides, we have received great support and direction from the Party, State and Army.
However, we also met many difficulties in preparation. This is the first time the unit will be deployed to a mission, which called for careful research.
Transport is also complicated. The unit’s personnel will travel from Việt Nam to Khartoum, capital of Sudan, by air, then they will go to a transit airport and travel for another long journey before reaching the base.
Meanwhile, equipment will be transported by waterway to the Sudanese port and then transported by road for around 3,200km to Abyei area where the unit is deployed. The journey must be carried out during the dry season.
Another challenge is their tasks. The engineering unit with 184 professional officers and soldiers is assigned with a huge amount of work: ensuring smooth traffic of the road system in the area, including 250-300km of dirt roads which need to be upgraded after each rainy season. The unit is also in charge of building UN barracks. They have to build roads leading to the area where the barracks will be based and then build the barracks themselves.
Due to the nature of the work, most of the tasks are done outdoors and they need to bring along materials to ensure logistics such as cooking, electricity generation and water. Each task can last from one to four weeks.
The officers and soldiers must go through many stages while travelling from Việt Nam to the countries where they are deployed.
Each region will have its own regulations and laws. They will have advantages when going through regions with political stability while regions with complex political situations will have a negative impact on travelling.
Which measures will we take to effectively carry out training for officers and soldiers in Việt Nam as well as ensure safety for soldiers in areas where they are deployed amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
Regarding training, Việt Nam often invited foreign experts to come to teach and share experience in this field.
However, due to the pandemic, we have to organise training courses ourselves without foreign experts.
Luckily, Việt Nam has some experience in this field thanks to the deployment of Vietnamese officers and soldiers to UN missions over the past years.
Those who returned from the missions will help train officers and soldiers who will join the next missions.
These training courses are recognised by the UN. We have to submit the curricular and profiles of teachers to the UN before training.
Officers and soldiers graduating from these training courses have well performed when joining the UN missions, meeting knowledge and professional requirements and are highly appreciated by the UN.
However, the pandemic has created many difficulties for management tasks as well as supply of medical materials and chemicals from Việt Nam to areas where the missions are based to help maintain operation of field hospitals.
The UN appreciates Việt Nam for meeting the proportion of female soldiers taking part in peacekeeping activities following the UN Resolution 1325 about Women, Peace and Security. Could you talk more about this?
The UN is promoting the role of gender equality and has clear goals. For example, it set a target of having 25 per cent of women serving peacekeeping forces by 2025.
However, the increase of the rate of female peacekeepers is a challenge for not only Việt Nam but all countries participating in UN peacekeeping operations.
Việt Nam has basically met UN expectations for the proportion of female peacekeepers but in order to fulfill the target of 25 per cent by 2025, the country needs to strive to make careful preparations in selection and training.
The UN set that goal due to real demand because peacekeeping operations are now multi-dimensional tasks involving many factors, including soldiers, police, civilians and international organisations.
The main targets of peacekeeping operations are protecting civilians, women and children, and particularly issues related to sexual abuse prevention and control. Therefore, women play a special and important role in peacekeeping operations.
In Việt Nam, all ministries, agencies and sectors have commitments to meet the proportion of women, to help join hands in addressing issues relating to peace and global security.
Are there plans to make more contributions to peacekeeping missions in the future?
In the future, we set the target of successfully deploying the first military engineering unit to the UN peacekeeping mission and finish all the tasks assigned by the UN for the humanitarian mission.
Việt Nam will continue to keep up the good quality of its level-2 field hospitals to maintain its existing reputation among the missions.
It is also necessary to prepare personnel to meet higher posts at the missions.
For long-term plans, we need to prepare models of units following the Resolution 130/2020/QH14 of the National Assembly on joining the UN peacekeeping operations, to take part in UN peacekeeping operations more deeply and widely. — VNS