Editor's Comment

Keep the Zambian flag high

ZAMBIA ARMY

ZAMBIA yesterday dispatched a battalion of over 500 troops to the Central African Republic under the United Nations peace keeping mission in that country.
This is not the first time Zambia is taking part in peace-keeping missions in Africa.
Zambia, being a beacon of peace in Africa and world over, has never hesitated to release peace troops wherever duty called.
Zambian peace troops have been to other war-torn countries in Africa such as Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo among others. And in all their operations, the Zambian troops have represented the country exceptionally well by conducting themselves professionally.
Actually, last year, Zambia released another battalion of troops to CAR who are on record for having performed exceptionally well in terms of executing their duties as well as maintaining personal discipline.
This is the record we want the 530 troops dispatched yesterday to CAR to maintain.
This is especially so because peace-keeping troops from other countries have in the recent past been marred with accusations of mineral theft and, more seriously, the sexual abuse of women and under-age girls.
Peace-keepers have also been accused of failing to respond promptly when civilians were threatened and that they failed to use force in the ten deadliest attacks on civilians between 2010 and 2013.
A 2014 Human Rights Watch report claimed that UN peace-keepers and Congolese forces failed to prevent an attack in the DRC that left at least thirty civilians dead.
AU peacekeepers were also implicated in the disappearances of eleven people in the Central African Republic in 2014.
Amidst all these accusations, we implore the Zambian troops sent to CAR to refrain from inappropriate behaviour likely to tarnish the image of the Zambia army and the country as a whole.
In fact, we expect our troops to be role models to colleagues from other countries.
Most of these troops have left families behind, who look forward to them coming back in one piece. It would be cruelty of the highest order for any of these troops to come back with sexually transmitted diseases after subjecting their wives and children to lengthy absence.
It is our hope that these troops are subjected to psychological counselling on how to handle stress while away from their wives.
It is saddening to hear reports of UN peace-keepers fathering and subsequently abandoning children at the end of their deployment.
Our peace troops should always bear in mind that they are in these countries to help find solutions and not add to their challenges by increasing the number of single mothers and fatherless children who, in most cases, have no source of income thereby perpetuating poverty.
They should heed Zambia Army Commander Paul Mihova’s advice to maintain the highest levels of discipline and avoid vices such as sexual exploitation and abuse.
Lieutenant-General Mihova rightly notes that the troops have a duty to enhance the image of the army and the country at large.
We have confidence that our gallant troops deployed in CAR will keep the Zambian flag flying high with integrity, as Gen Mihova has said, the Zambia Army will not hesitate to recall or punish any troop that dares to break the record of professional peace keeping.
To our troops in CAR, we wish you well!

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