Peruvian Blue Helmets Fostering Peace
By Dialogo December 09, 2010I am a officer police of the Militar Police of state Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, and would like to participate of the peacekeeping missions, I am sub-lieutenant and I am 47 years age, and would like to know the age limit for a brasilian component?
LIMA, Peru – The Joint Training Center for Peace Operations (CECOPAZ)
was established in Peru in 2003 to train military and civilian personnel
participating in peacekeeping missions.
Naval Capt. Roberto Barrios Coloma, the director of CECOPAZ, recently sat
down with Infosurhoy.com for an exclusive interview to discuss
Peruvian peacekeeping contingents and their work worldwide.
Infosurhoy.com: Where are your peacekeepers performing missions?
Barrios Coloma: There are 403 Peruvians deployed to six peacekeeping
missions. The main contingent is in Haiti (366). We’re also in Sudan (19), Congo
(7), Liberia (5), Ivory Coast (3) and Cyprus (3). We’re preparing to send to Haiti a
contingent comprised of women.
Infosurhoy.com: How many missions have had Peruvian involvement?
Barrios Coloma: Of our 18 missions, 12 have ended and six are ongoing.
A total of 3,538 members of Peru’s armed forces have participated in peace missions.
Infosurhoy.com: What is the role of Peruvian Blue Helmets deployed to a
Barrios Coloma: From the military standpoint, the peacekeeping troops
operate under the Force Commander, and their role is to provide security for the
convoys. They are in charge of the refugee camps, as well as patrolling and
In the case of observers, their task is to verify on the ground that a
separation is maintained between two forces in conflict and to make sure there are
no more confrontations. This job can be dangerous because they must move across
fields containing landmines.
Infosurhoy.com: How long is deployment?
Barrios Coloma: The level of tension they’re under calls for rotating
these contingents every six months. The idea is for the personnel not to remain
there forever, but instead to be always in rotation.
Infosurhoy.com: What is the required training?
Barrios Coloma: We don’t teach military skills. We train them to face
crises with the premise they already have some military training.
Infosurhoy.com: Is there a selection process to participate in these
Barrios Coloma: The Joint Training Center for Peace Operations comes up
with a vacancy announcement. It’s then up to each force to devise its own procedures
for selecting and evaluating [candidates] to reach the number of peacekeeping troops
needed. On top of that, a list of potential candidates must be added, in case you
need to replace anyone who fails the academic requirements.
Infosurhoy.com: What is the selection process?
Barrios Coloma: In the specific case of Haiti, for example, we figured
that as an airborne company the participants needed to be skilled in parachuting and
swimming. Generally speaking, to make the final selection for these peace missions
you must pass a professional military background test, as well as a physical
examination. The scores are made public immediately after the tests are completed.
Infosurhoy.com: What are the requirements?
Barrios Coloma: There is an age limit, which normally means you must be
younger than 35. In the case of observers, they must be commanders or majors, or
their equivalent, depending on the force. They also have to be proficient in English
and be physically fit.
Infosurhoy.com: Are there any benefits to the career of the
participant, or are these peace missions taken by volunteers willing to serve their
Barrios Coloma: The benefit of participating as a peacekeeping soldier
is that it strengthens the participant’s service record. He or she is able to
improve his or her skills, with the understanding that it’s an honor to serve a
people who need his or her help. They are also remunerated for their service, and
the armed forces are compensated for incurred expenses, training and the use of
Infosurhoy.com: Is each branch of the military represented in
Barrios Coloma: Unlike other countries, the peacekeeping missions are
supported by all entities, be it with tangible means or with qualified personnel.
For instance, the Peru Company in Haiti includes members of the navy, army and air
Infosurhoy.com: What is the role of the civilians who take part in the
Barrios Coloma: We are represented by two types of civilians. We train
journalists so they can provide coverage as correspondents, taking into account
security measures. And we train United Nations officials, who as part of their
regulations must take security training. We are their support.
Infosurhoy.com: What preventive measures are taken to protect
peacekeepers? For instance, how have you dealt with the outbreak of cholera in
Barrios Coloma: Peacekeepers must be vaccinated for all missions. In
the particular case of cholera, the Peru Company in Haiti includes a doctor who
oversees the health of all personnel. Also, those who’ve returned from Haiti have
been quarantined and subjected to a series of tests, with none of them showing
evidence of any potentially contagious diseases.
Infosurhoy.com: Have any Peruvian women participated in peacekeeping
Barrios Coloma: A total of 11 women have taken part in the peace
missions, with two active. One is with the Joint Chiefs for the Peru Company in
Haiti. Her duties include observing and reporting within her area of responsibility.
We also have a woman who is an observer in a mission in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo.