On International Day of UN Peacekeepers, UNISFA lauds the role of sports in promoting peace and partnerships in Abyei
UNISFA’s acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major-General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr, reiterated calls for peace in the Abyei area during celebrations organized by the newly reconfigured multinational peacekeeping force to mark this year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers. The event was held on 29 May, at the mission headquarters in Abyei.
“One of the tools of achieving the power of partnership is through sports. As you know, sports promotes universal values, and is not limited to language, religion, culture, or tribe. It brings people together. Its intrinsic values of teamwork, fairness and discipline can be used in the advancement of peaceful co-existence,” said Major-General Sawyerr.
During the event, he and the Juba-appointed Chief Administrator Kuol Deim Kuol led the Mission Leadership Team in laying wreaths in memory of UNISFA peacekeepers who have sacrificed their lives in the service of peace. This was followed by the reading of the UN Secretary General's message by the acting HOM/FC and a parade by military contingents, police, civilians, and UN volunteers. The Chinese Medium Utility Helicopter Unit put on an aerial display.
Representatives of the local authorities, youth and women’s group leaders joined the UNISFA peacekeepers during a series of commemorative events held under this year’s theme, "People, Peace, Progress: The Power of Partnerships”. An evening cultural fete included music, a traditional food bazaar and dances by various contingents. Women and children from the local community performed traditional music and dance.
The official ceremony followed a weeklong football and basketball tournament between the peacekeepers and the Abyei Youth Football Academy. The youth team emerged winners after beating GHANBATT in the final match.
Meanwhile, the GHANBATT basketball team beat the UNISFA civilian opponents. Winners received trophies and medals, while the victorious football team got a cash donation from a local company.
In Kadugli, the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) commemorated the Peacekeepers’ Daywith a three-kilometre run, a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony led by the JBVMM chief, Brigadier-General Atogebakoga Alobawone.
A tree-planting and clean-up session in Murta Village was followed by a volleyball game and cultural night.