Namibian troops await Liberian marching orders

Namibian troops await Liberian marching orders

NAMIBIA’s first soldiers to join the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Liberia could depart as soon as this Thursday.

NDF Chief of Staff Major General Peter Nambundunga confirmed to The Namibian on Friday that an advance party comprising about 115 soldiers is scheduled to leave the country this week. Details relating to their departure will be ironed out today with a UN team that arrived in Windhoek yesterday.Earlier this week the UN team will perform a pre-deployment readiness inspection and sign a memorandum of understanding with Namibia.UN aircraft are expected to arrive at Hosea Kutako International Airport in coming days to transport the first group of soldiers.Several vehicles and other equipment needed for the mission have already been sent to Walvis Bay, from where they are to be shipped to Liberia.The first group of soldiers would be expected to establish amenities on the ground for those that follow, and assess any other requirements for ensuing battalions, said Nambundunga.At least 800 Namibian soldiers are expected to be deployed in total: the exact number is to be determined during negotiations this week.The full deployment is expected to be completed by early next month.The total cost of the deployment will be shouldered by the UN.In August, Namibia responded to a worldwide appeal by the UN for member states to pledge troops to the Liberian peacekeeping mission.The aspiration was to form an army of some 15 000 to help stabilise the West African country, which has been plunged in civil war almost non-stop for the past 15 years.Six NDF members have been stationed at UN Headquarters in Monrovia since late last year, serving as observers, logistics and protocol personnel.The United Nations does not have its own army and relies on troop contributions from its 191 member states.At present, the peacekeeping force in operation there largely consists of soldiers from neighbouring West African nations.Namibia will join soldiers from Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have already responded to the UN appeals for assistance.Details relating to their departure will be ironed out today with a UN team that arrived in Windhoek yesterday. Earlier this week the UN team will perform a pre-deployment readiness inspection and sign a memorandum of understanding with Namibia. UN aircraft are expected to arrive at Hosea Kutako International Airport in coming days to transport the first group of soldiers. Several vehicles and other equipment needed for the mission have already been sent to Walvis Bay, from where they are to be shipped to Liberia. The first group of soldiers would be expected to establish amenities on the ground for those that follow, and assess any other requirements for ensuing battalions, said Nambundunga. At least 800 Namibian soldiers are expected to be deployed in total: the exact number is to be determined during negotiations this week. The full deployment is expected to be completed by early next month. The total cost of the deployment will be shouldered by the UN. In August, Namibia responded to a worldwide appeal by the UN for member states to pledge troops to the Liberian peacekeeping mission. The aspiration was to form an army of some 15 000 to help stabilise the West African country, which has been plunged in civil war almost non-stop for the past 15 years. Six NDF members have been stationed at UN Headquarters in Monrovia since late last year, serving as observers, logistics and protocol personnel. The United Nations does not have its own army and relies on troop contributions from its 191 member states. At present, the peacekeeping force in operation there largely consists of soldiers from neighbouring West African nations. Namibia will join soldiers from Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have already responded to the UN appeals for assistance.

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