It is usually said that one should give a man his flowers while he is alive, so it was with the AFL soldiers in the peacekeeping mission in Mali who were given medals of honor for their hard work in helping to keep peace in that country.
The Liberian delegation that departed Liberia last Week to visit the AFL Soldiers in Mali, included Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai; Chief of Staff Lt General Daniel Ziankhan; Bong County Representative and Chairman on Defense , George Mulbah, and some high ranging AFL military officers.
The journey to the MINUSMA headquarters in Diabady near the Mauritanian border is normally about seven to eight hours drive from the Capital Bamako. But the delegation boarded the UN Airplane and made the first stop, after on hour in Morti and thereafter, they boarded the UN Chopper for another hour to go to Diabady, where the troops are stationed.
The Liberian AFL soldiers who were in high spirit when they saw the Liberian delegation were all dressed neatly in their camouflage uniforms waiting to be inspected by Defense Minister Samukai, who was accompanied by Chief of Staff Lt. General Daniel Ziankhan to give the medals of Honor to the soldiers.
“We are committed in supporting the MINUSMA effort in bringing peace and stability to this part of our region. We are also here to honor you for your hard work over the last eleven months you have served in the Mission and in a few days you be returning home to reunite with your families. We hope this serves as a motivation to your counterpart back home,” Says Defense Minister Brownie Samukai at the honoring program.
Using the occasion, Minister Samukai thanked the Mali Government for their kind hospitality. And also thanked the Bangladeshi and Togo Battalions for their continuous assistance rendered to the Liberian Soldiers working alongside with them on the Mission.
Chief of Staff Lt. Daniel Ziankhan told his troops since he arrived in Mali, he had received good news regarding them and he was delighted over this.
“It has been several decades since we last took part in a peacekeeping mission in Congo, so it is a good sign to have you on this peace keeping mission here in Mali. Therefore, this medals is a high honor for your hard work and it will last with you for you and your generations to come,” Said Chief of staff Ziankhan.
Representative George Mulbah, said he would raise the issue of support for the troop in Mali and make sure they get the support they need.
“Operating with a platoon size in this area is difficult but with the assistance from the Nigerian contingent from the beginning and now the Bangladeshi and Togolese, the tension has reduced.
The Bangladeshi contingent has been helping us with transportation of logistics while the Togo contingent has been assisting us with medical aid on the field,” says First Lt. Nathaniel Waka, who is heading the Liberian peacekeeping mission in that country.
He said they went as a platoon and later merged with other contingents in Mission but it was not easy from the beginning.
“We have been here since 11 months and 15 days and working under this weather condition is not easy. This entire area is a desert that we recently had a sand storm, but there was no casualty.”
During the delegation’s visit, all of the foreign battalion working along with the Liberian soldiers spoke highly of the performance of the AFL soldiers and how happy they were to have them on board.
“I would like to point out that the Liberian soldiers are very professional and easy to work with and it is an honor and privilege to work with them,” asserts Lt. Col. Mohammad Zakaria, Chief of operations, Bangladesh Battalion.
Lt. Col. Zakaria, who has 850 men deployed in Mali, works directly with the Liberian troops on a daily basis, spoke about a little problem since their deployment. “The situation at times become difficult because recently there as a little disturbance not far from here, but we try to keep it peaceful here,” he said.
For his part, the Togo Battalion Commander Kezie Tohea also working alongside the Liberian troops said he enjoys working along with the Liberian soldiers because they have no problem and they all live as brothers.
With less than three weeks to return to Liberia and be replaced, the Liberian battalion in Mali left Liberia in June of last year, as part of the ECOWAS force under the African-led international support mission in Mali.
They later joined UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Since July 1, 2013, the unit has conducted over 145 patrols along the Mauritian borders and its surroundings along with the Nigerian battalion before its departure and now the Bangladeshi and Togolese Battalions. Courtesy: Mae Azango of FrontPage Newspaper.