Camilo Gómez is a Colombian aeronautical professional who is proud of his journey as a UN Volunteer. He’s one of the 130 professionals currently serving as UN Volunteers with the UN Verification Mission in Colombia (UNVMC).
Of all the field missions that Camilo Gómez has participated in as a UN Volunteer, one truly left its mark on him. It was in a remote place in Colombia called Mandé, located deep in the jungle in the rural zone of the Urrao municipality, between the Antioquia and Chocó departments.
"Mandé is a region far from the urban centre, with lots of forests and rivers, and it took me a 12-hour ride on a mule to arrive. It is one of the thousand Colombian regions affected by the conflict," says Camilo. He is aeronautical professional with 14 years of experience in dispatching cargo and passenger aircrafts.
UNVMC is a special political mission that verifies the implementation of five points of the Final Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP). The mission also supports other efforts to strengthen peace in the country.
"In 2018, two years after the signature of the Final Peace Agreement, the UN Verification Mission arrived in Mandé, overcoming many challenges to transform this area in a space for peace, harmony and wellbeing for the Mandé community," Camilo explains.
The legacy that I left behind, together with my colleagues in the Aviation Unit, is connecting Mandé with Urrao by air with our helicopters, shortening the trip to only 45 minutes. This allows us to transport people and cargo needed for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. --Camilo Gómez, national UN Volunteer with the UN Verification Mission in Colombia
"The people we reach in the communities really need our support. With our duty of flight ground assistance, we are the bridge between the community and our colleagues in the mission, so they can do their verification work in the field," Camilo elaborates.
He continues, "during my assignment, I supported the transportation of materials to build a park in Mandé, bringing joy to children through a recreational space. Furthermore, we contributed to the reintegration of 57 people into civil society, and connected the territory with different peace institutions. I believe the community has benefited and gained opportunities and that its people can now enjoy a more dignified life."
"As a UN Volunteer, my main role is that of monitoring flights, and I ensure that everything that the aircrafts require, is implemented correctly. Thus, having knowledge of aviation meteorology, planning, flight tracking, fuel coordination and airport services, is key."
I first got to know about the work of the mission while working for Central Aerospace, an aeronautical company that coordinated the ground operation of UN helicopters. In 2021, I got the chance to be on the other side, as a UN Volunteer with the Aviation Unit. Being part of the UN Verification Mission is a dream come true. I put my heart, my will and my motivation into my work, because I know I serve a greater purpose. --Camilo Gómez
More than 130 UN Volunteers currently support the peacebuilding efforts of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. Of these, 60 per cent are women and 97 per cent serve under the UN Volunteer specialist category. About 15 per cent of UN Volunteers are Colombian nationals and 50 per cent of the international UN Volunteers come from the Global South.