By Kebba Jeffang A ceremony to bid farewell to the 18th contingent (Gamcoy 18) of the Gambia Armed VP Njie SAIDY handing over flagForces to Darfur, comprising 214 soldiers presided over by Vice President Madam Isatou Njie Saidy, was held yesterday, Monday, 23 February, 2015 at the July 22nd Square In Banjul. Addressing the departing members of the GAF, Vice President Njie Saidy, who also doubles as the Chairperson of the National Security Council, said the deployment of the contingent to Darfur should be seen in the context of a noble challenge, adding that it is a challenge to pursue humanitarian affairs in a war-torn area where displaced people are just beginning to live normal lives after traumatic experiences associated with war and conflict. “It is our government’s policy and challenge to honour United Nations and African Union mandates for peace keeping forces. This gesture has been fulfilled throughout and our soldiers have performed diligently in all the services required of them. As we deal with modern trends of conflict and terrorism and of course wars, we have to always pray that our forces do not go into harm’s way nor do they encounter bitter conflicts that will make them perish. This is why peace keeping is always important because it tries to prevent bloodshed and irrational traits of war, revenge and conflict,” said VP Njie Saidy. The Gambian Vice President said it is certain that the reason for the new UN General Assembly Resolution 67/261 rotational cycle for the contingent from six months to one year is to effectively deal with the problems of maintaining peace and ensuring a solid base for continuity and positive results for the displaced people. “Monitoring compliance with cease fire, assisting in the process of confidence building, protecting mission personnel and properties, guaranteeing security for NGO, visiting VIPs, humanitarian organizations as well as helping the displaced persons to deal with the wounds of conflict is among the major roles of GAMCOY 18,” she said. The VP concluded by urging the contingent members to be goodwill ambassadors of the Gambia in the global forum of conflict resolution which, she added, is also part of their role. Speaking earlier, Lieutenant General Ousman Bargie, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) also urged the 18th contingent of GAF to have respect for the religion and tradition of Darfur inhabitants during their one year peace keeping mission in Sudan. Lt. General Bargie said the one year mission is a humanitarian and peace support operations in the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur. “The contingent underwent 3 months Peace Support Operation Training at the Gambia Armed Forces Training School. They are trained by our instructors and assistance from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment under the auspices of British Army Training Team. It was 11 years ago, in December, 2004 precisely, when we gathered to bid farewell to the first Gambian contingent to Darfur and we are still continuing to send our troops. These deployments of GAF are a clear demonstration of the Gambia government willingness and commitment to nurture and maintain peace not only in the Gambia but the world over,” said CDS Bargie. The Gambia army chief further said that the primary role for any armed forces is to defend the country’s territorial integrity. However, he said, this traditional role is rapidly changing in the face of an unpredictable and volatile global security situation. He said this is why the armed forces are being called upon to either participate in peace building, peace keeping or peace enforcement. He finally called on the contingent to be committed, respectful and professional so as to continue the good name of the Gambia Armed Force. “Behave well. Cases of undermining your leadership, professional misconduct or any behavior that would dent the positive image of this country will not be tolerated and culprits will be dealt with seriously upon return,” said CDS Bargie. The contingent which is led by Lt. Colonel James Jatta consists of 208 soldiers, including 14 officers and 194 other ranks and 7 females.]]>

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