Peruvian Armed Forces to Deploy Military Engineers to the Central African Republic
By Dialogo September 15, 2015We are all free slavery has ended
The Peruvian Armed Forces will deploy 205 service members in November to construct and repair important airfields in the Central African Republic as part of the United Nations (UN) Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA).
Composed of 160 Military engineers and 45 service members responsible for their protection and security, the Airfield Construction and Maintenance Company will work on 35 airfields in the Central African Republic. Peru's Armed Forces received approval to deploy the contingent in July after a meeting with a delegation that included officials with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Department of Field Support (DFS).
“The plan is for this first contingent, commanded by Military Engineering Colonel Antonio Córdoba, to carry out its first mission in the city of Bouar (prefecture of Nana-Mambéré), in the western part of the Central African Republic, beginning next November,” said Colonel Juan Chapoñan Vinces, head of the Office of International Affairs, Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with Diálogo
Preparing for the UN mission
To prepare for the assignment, the Peruvian contingent of engineers, technicians, captains, and Soldiers trained for five weeks in April and May in Peru's Joint Peace Operations Training Center (CECOPAZ), in accordance with UN standards. The training focused on patrol techniques, physical fitness, threat response, building entry, humanitarian law, and countering ambushes - all essential skills for Troops who are deploying to a potentially violent and volatile region.
“All combatants who participate in a peacekeeping operation must realize that they are going into a conflict zone and understand what they will have to confront,” Col. Chapoñan explained. “We have taken all necessary precautions to secure the perimeter. We won't be alone in the zones with the most action; there will be battalions and Troop leaders from other countries.”
Along with these highly trained Soldiers and Military engineers, the Peruvian government will also provide equipment and material to repair the airfields, including front loaders, bulldozers, steamrollers, steam shovels, water tanker trucks, fuel, engines, and combat vehicles.
“The airfields in the Central African Republic are rather unkempt due to the religious conflict. A lot of work is required - work that will help the United Nations deploy other types of aircraft. The populace will also benefit from the arrival of humanitarian aid or commercial flights, which to date are not occurring at the airfields due to the serious defects.”
“This is not something that can be done in a short amount of time. We estimate the work will last approximately 10 years.”
To maintain this prolonged effort, Peru will supply its first contingent of service members to MINUSCA for a year, with a second group of Peruvian Soldiers relieving them in November 2016. Currently, there is no end date regarding Peru’s commitment to the mission.
Since December 2013, the Central African Republic has been battered by waves of violence, a consequence of conflict between Christians in Antibalaka and Muslims in Séléka. The bloodshed has killed at least 5,000 people, and in 2014 displaced more than 900,000 residents. As of early 2015, more than 500,000 people remained displaced, with half of the country’s population of 4.6 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.
MINUSCA’s mandate to protect civilians and support stability in the Central African Republic began in September 2014. To buttress the effort, the UN formed the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) and assumed the responsibilities of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA). In total, the UN is deploying 9,110 Armed Forces Troops, 144 Military observers, and 1,552 police officers to the peace mission. They are being supported by 462 civilian personnel, 219 local civilian staff members, and 76 UN volunteers.
Peruvian Troops participate in several UN peacekeeping missions
Peru is a major contributor to such UN peacekeeping missions.
As of July 31, more than 200 Peruvian service members were participating in five of them: the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH); the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID); the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS); and in UN Operations in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI). Such efforts have taken Peruvian service members all over the world in recent years, assisting peacekeeping operations in the Western Sahara, the Congo, Cyprus, Lebanon, Iran-Iraq, the Golan Heights, Eritrea-Ethiopia, Burundi, Sudan, Namibia, Côte d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Haiti.
These efforts continue a record of generous contributions by the South American country to overseas peacekeeping operations since 1958. Peru formalized its willingness to serve in such missions by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN in November 2003.
“Our country has always been sensitive to the sustained efforts that the UN has deployed in the course of its history to contribute to reaching and fostering the noble objectives of peace and peaceful coexistence, to which all peoples of the world aspire since they are indispensable to their social and economic development,” the Peruvian Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff website reports.
The Peruvian Armed Forces have much to contribute to international peacekeeping operations.
“The Peruvian Armed Forces have experience in real combat, the terrorism problem we have faced for many years has obligated us to,” Col. Chapoñan said. “That experience is leveraged to send out this sort of contingent. They can help the United Nations peace missions. [Furthermore], the peace operations have increased the high level of professionalism in Peru’s defense sector, international cooperation, and mutual confidence.”