Throughout my career, I always had the idea of one day joining the United Nations Volunteers (UNV). I was inspired by the many UN Volunteers I met during my years of service in Africa. While most were young, active individuals, there were also older ones like me now, with a strong vision of volunteerism. Fortunately, I was successful in my application and am blessed to now be in my second UNV assignment.
My name is Adil Abdallah, I’m from Darfur. I have been serving, since November 2014, as a national UN Volunteer Human Rights Officer with the Human Rights Section of the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID). My responsibilities include collecting information on human rights violations and abuses in Darfur. I report on serious human rights violations, including rape, abductions, arbitrary arrests and killing.
UN Volunteers represent well over a third of the international personnel within the UN Mission for the Stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Despite this important component of personnel, the Mission remains a highly-militarized peacekeeping operation.
The presence of the UN Mission since 2014 has helped save many lives and greatly improved conditions for the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance in the Central African Republic (CAR), a country where approximately 40% of the population is dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive, according to OCHA.
The United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) was established in 2011 and since the outbreak of conflict in 2013 its mandate has evolved to include the protection of civilians the monitoring and investigating of human rights abuses, support to the South Sudanese–led peace process and support for the delivery of vital humanitarian assistance. Some 440 UN Volunteers, such as myself, are on location supporting mission objectives and assisting local communities.
My name is Henry Tambade (Zimbabwe). I am an international UN Volunteer stationed in Monrovia, serving as Corrections Training Officer with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) since September 2013. I have a degree in Adult Education which I obtained from the Midlands State University in Zimbabwe in 2010. I also have a diploma in the same field obtained in 2005 from the University of Zimbabwe.
As UNV Programme Manager in South Sudan, it is my privilege to support and follow the work that over 440 UN Volunteers carry out in their daily activities across 10 different states. Their efforts and contributions play an integral role in carrying out the mandate of UNMISS, namely protecting civilians, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance, reporting human rights abuses and supporting the implementation of the peace agreement.
UN Volunteers serve throughout UNAMID’s operations covering the vast Darfur region (approximately equivalent to the size of France). The environment is characterized by harsh conditions with extremely high temperatures, driving sand storms, and limited or non-existent local support mechanisms. Despite these challenges, UNAIMD successfully established a network of facilities and infrastructure in Darfur, including in remote deep-field locations, to support and achieve the mission’s Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding mandate.
UN peacekeeping operations traditionally rely on military personnel. Over the last 25 years, police and civilian functions have exponentially grown as a response to new conflicts and emerging threats to peace around the world, but also in response to calls for a stronger “people focus” of peace operations. UN operations are now tasked with maintaining peace but also supporting institutions of governance, human rights monitoring, security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants and other critical areas in order to build a truly sustainable peace.
The UN Secretary-General laid a wreath to commemorate those who have fallen while serving in United Nations peacekeeping operations over the last year. In addition, the Secretary-General presided over the ceremony at which the Dag Hammarskjöld medals were awarded posthumously to 117 military, police, international and national civilian personnel, including UN Volunteers, who perished in the service of peace.
Three UN Volunteers were among this year's Dag Hammarskjöld medal recipients.