A big ‘well done’ to you and an equally big ‘thank you’
Speech of Ag HoM/FC at the farewell townhall on 9 February 2017 at the UNISFA Force Headquarter in Abyei
It is my pleasure and privilege to be addressing you for the last time today as I come to an end of my tour of duty with UNISFA. It is also with a great sense of satisfaction, both personal and professional that I bid farewell to you today as Force Commander and Acting Head of Mission.
At the outset I must say that I owe this sense of fulfilment entirely to your personal and collective contribution as members of the UNISFA team and family. For this reason I want to share with you my sense of a ‘job well done’ with you all. It is our shared sense of achievement and pride. I therefore wish to appreciate your contributions to enable UNISFA fulfil its mandate.
As your leader over the past one year, I also wish to thank you for this achievement. Our mandate has been implemented to the best of our ability by the close coordination and team-spirit between the military, police and civilian components – both substantive and mission support - and the humanitarian and recovery sector, and for making this possible, I say a big ‘well done’ to you and an equally big ‘thank you’.
As the Strategic Review Team arrives Abyei Area and the JBVMM in the coming week, it is a good juncture to review how far we have come. We are now at a plateau, best positioned to take the Mission forward through a strategic review of our mandate.
I would like to use this Town Hall meeting for a reflective and introspective pause from our daily routine. The format I propose is that I first recount how UNISFA has engaged with its mandate and its levels of success in relation to each of our key activity areas, whereupon I will call on your section/component head to intervene briefly with the details.
Firstly, there has been a relaxation on implementing UNISFA's conflict mitigation strategy. I initiated and implemented this approach to scale down tension between the two communities and also to push both communities towards reconciliation. Today, both communities are sharing grazing land and water peacefully. Last year’s migration and reverse migration was very peaceful. Much ground has been traversed in terms of reconciliation after the assassination of Paramount Chief.
In my capacity as the Designated Official (DO) for security during my tenure, I always kept the UN personnel safety and security on top. We have timely reviewed the security risk management procedures in line with the UN security management system (UNSMS) policies. We have managed to justify payment of danger pay as per ICSC criteria. We have prevented risk from ammunition explosion by establishing proper and standard ammunition storage facilities.
During my stay in UNISFA, we managed to address several welfare issues including recruiting a welfare officer. We established an annual welfare plan with regular follow-up meetings with the Welfare Committee. I also witnessed during this period an increase in welfare facilities which are now being enjoyed by staff and personnel, such as gym expansion, Pool and Table tennis, basketball, Volleyball and badminton as well as massage table, and ladies saloon which will open up as soon as the service provider is identified. A barber’s shop and other exercise provisions which will enable UNISFA personnel to keep busy during the rainy season will soon be put I place. Staff participation in all these has made our work environment easier.
Improving living conditions
Improving living condition of all UNISFA members was one of my priorities when I assumed office. We established new and standard waste management system in all UNISFA compounds; approved a new site plan for Abyei camp expansion; planed replacement of old prefabs in all COBs; upgraded Noong and Dungoup TOBs and completed a new COB at Goli. To the extent we have succeeded I recognize with appreciation the efforts of CMS and his team.
I leave the mission with full confidence that the Mission Support has been focused on the efforts to improve staff living and working conditions. However, there is a lot more to be done and this requires the unity of the MSD team to keep the momentum and bring UNISFA to the expected standards like other missions. These efforts have certainly contributed to Abyei being equated with ‘Paradise’!
Achieving excellent inter-relationships among UNISFA members
During my tenure of Office a more open and inclusive conflict resolution mechanism was put in place. In that regard, most of the cases I met have had a positive resolution and most of the cases have been closed after diligent and proper investigations. These measures have started developing happiness, cooperation, confidence, team-spirit and a sense of belonging among staff. UNISFA's work environment has improved with an improved problem solving approach.
On the humanitarian front, our achievements are evidence of our collective success:
- Resettlement of 13,000 Ngok Dinka people from south of River Kiir to north.
- Smooth running of humanitarian activities, that have shifted from being humanitarian to recovery and development focused: such as delivery of 554 MT food distribution monthly; children going school without fear; health sectors running its activities well and so on.
Finally, as I round up my tour of duty, I wish to leave you with these two key messages. Firstly, keep an excellent working relationship within the mission leadership and between leadership and staff and between the various components. Do please continue to work as ‘One’, to support the new leadership team when it is in position next month.
Secondly, focus on mandate implementation, maintain high standards of yourself and ensure excellent performance.
As I end I would like to once again voice my thanks.
Firstly, I thank the leaders at all levels: I thank the Mission Leadership Team, the Senior Management Group and Heads of the Agencies, Funds and Programs as well as chiefs of substantive offices and section chiefs. Your support has enabled my plans and decisions being made possible and practicable.
Secondly, I wish to also thank members of the civilian, military and police components. I salute you for your patience, great efforts to restoring peace and your perseverance and innovative approach and engagement with the communities in Abyei Area.
Though not present here, I thank the traditional leaders of both Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities for playing a decisive role in peace restoration efforts. Peace is returning due to their engagement in continued dialogue, reaching agreements on matters of mutual concern and resorting to traditional compensation measures such as return of stolen cattle and compensation. I am certain their brave quest for peace will find support of both governments, the international community and over time will be rewarded with peace and development in Abyei Area.
Thank you and a big ‘Well Done, UNISFA’!