By Kebba Jeffang
A ceremony to bid farewell to the 18th contingent (Gamcoy 18) of the Gambia Armed Forces 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
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
“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.
By Kebba Jeffang