A disturbing report has it that, a contingent of Ghanaian Policemen from the Formed Police Unit (FPU) on duty in South Sudan are being investigated for sexual exploitation (see Page 9).
Public Agenda sees this as a serious scar on the face in view of Ghana’s role in the international peace keeping duties.
Ghana recently celebrated 50 years of participation in peacekeeping dating back to the 1960s. This year’s celebration was under the Theme, “Sacrificing for Peace: 50 Years of Ghana’s Participation in United Nations and Regional Peacekeeping Operations”, was in connection with the celebration of International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.
So far, Ghana has contributed more than 300,000 soldiers rotating in over 63 United Nations, regional and sub-regional Peacekeeping Missions from Congo; Rwanda; Namibia; Mozambique; Liberia; Sierra Leone; Cote d’Ivoire; Darfur, Sudan; to the Middle East, the Balkans and Asia.
In addition, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra, Ghana, is a flagship institution for the training of peacekeepers in Africa. Ghana’s Airforce and Medical Units have also participated in peacekeeping operations in the Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.
Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (FARI) in a statement, underscored the important role of our men and women in uniform when it said: “The Government and people of Ghana are very proud of the services of its security personnel and commend them for the high standard they have set wherever they have been to render invaluable services.”
Until now, Ghana’s role in international peacekeeping has been exemplary. Ghana also remains one of the top 10 troop contributing countries in the world. The head of the UN’s peacekeeping acknowledged this when he singled out Ghana for including a lot of women in its troops serving on various UN peacekeeping operations, saying that “this is remarkable and outstanding.” This signifies that Ghana is sensitive to gender issues, particularly, the role of women.
All has been well until now. The accusations made against the Formed Police Unit are being investigated, but all the same, it is still a shameful episode. Something that should never have happened because there are still professional men and women in the FPU.
Public Agenda is therefore appealing to the Ghana Police Force, the Ministry of FARI and all institutions involved in the investigation to treat this episode with the seriousness it deserves. Kofi Annan centre needs to revise its training notes and ensure that attention is given to this aspect of the training. It also calls for a serious scrutiny of all officers sent out on peacekeeping missions.
As for the FPU, it is time for them to rebrand seriously. Ghana relies on men and women of integrity. This has been tarnished severely by these accusations and allegations. This is not one area when we can bury our heads in the sand as we are used to doing.
Let us act. It is not too late to save the integrity and dignity of our men and women in uniform.