Spreading Image of Vietnam in Abyei on UN Peacekeeping Mission

Just nearly a year after their deployment to the African town of Abyei on the UN peacekeeping mission, Vietnam’s peacekeepers has achieved significant results in improving infrastructure and living conditions for the local people.

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Vietnam’s Military Engineering Unit Rotation 1 grants humanitarian works to Abyei school (Photo: Military Engineering Unit Rotation 1
Vietnam’s Military Engineering Unit Rotation 1 grants humanitarian works to Abyei school. Photo: Military Engineering Unit Rotation 1

Vietnam’s Military Engineering Unit Rotation 1 at the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) on February 11 handed over some humanitarian works to Abyei High School, VNA reported Monday.

The soldiers helped build a 5m-wide, 150m-long road leading to the school, a clean water well and a 5,000 cu.m tank; and install a pump, a generator, and a pipeline system to provide clean water to teachers and students.

They built two classrooms, one teachers’ room, a library a canteen and one security room. The unit also granted six laptops worth over VND 60 million (USD 2,545) to the school.

In addition, the team also took advantage of wooden crates, scrap iron and steel to build 20 sets of student desks and chairs for the school.

During an English class of Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Lien. Source: PANO
During an English class of Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Thi Lien. Source: PANO
Major Nguyen Van Thu, a logistics officer at UNISFA, has volunteered to do the job as a teacher in Abyei every Friday. He teaches information technology (IT) for students of Abyei High School.
Major Nguyen Van Thu, a logistics officer at UNISFA, volunteered to do the job as a teacher in Abyei every Friday. He teaches information technology (IT) for students of Abyei High School. Source: PANO

Along with the support of facilities, the Engineering Unit Rotation 1 also cooperates with the school to organise many practical, meaningful, and effective activities such as appointing qualified comrades and officers support to help the school in teaching work on weekends; providing technical guidance on using computers for the management, administration and teaching of teachers and school staff; exchange teaching methods that apply information technology to create vivid visual images.

UNISFA Acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr said that these works will help teachers and students overcome difficulties and deficiencies in infrastructure and equipment to improve the quality of teaching and learning for a brighter future of Abyei.

Just nearly a year after their deployment to the African town of Abyei on the UN peacekeeping mission, Vietnam’s Engineering Unit Rotation 1 has achieved significant results in improving infrastructure and living conditions for the local people.

For years, Abyei, a disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan, has been affected by severe flooding, especially during the rainy season. Poor living conditions with almost no toilet facilities are also a factor for widespread diseases in the local community.

Abyei’s mayor has called upon the UNISFA to ask for support in developing the water drainage system to relieve the situation.

In July 2022, Vietnam’s Engineering Unit Rotation 1 set out to study the local terrain under the task assigned by the UNISFA, according to VNS.

While the engineering unit had been ready to get to work and prepared three excavators and various dumping trucks for the mission, the challenge remained in the acceptance of the local people.

Aware of the situation, the Vietnamese unit set out to talk to the village elders and went knocking door to door to communicate the message of their mission.

Reducing the distance between the peacekeepers and the local people, and receiving the latter’s approval, construction for the drainage system was allowed to begin.

Within two days after the water flows were redirected and improved, the town’s flooding issues were significantly mitigated.

Taking a holistic approach, the Vietnamese engineering unit continued working to improve the area’s entire drainage system, connecting the main and auxiliary flows in the hope to prevent flood risks in the future.

A new road in the African town of Abyei, which was recently reconstructed with the help of the Vietnamese Engineering Unit Rotation 1. — Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations
A new road in the African town of Abyei, which was reconstructed in 2022 with the help of the Vietnamese Engineering Unit Rotation 1. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations

In addition, the Vietnamese unit also worked on a 200-meter-long road to help children go to school easier.

Nearly 100 cubic meters of soil was used to raise the school’s foundation to prevent flooding on a total area of 400 square meters – which was also made into a sports field for the children.

Apart from the new road, Vietnam’s Engineering Unit Rotation 1 also presented the school with two new garbage incinerators, and three waste containers, alongside one set of pillars, a net and five volleyballs.

During the month of deploying the mission, the unit had spent a total of 700 hundred working days of the entire personnel and 500 hours working with the machinery, moving over 3,000 cubic metres of soil, and dredging more than 20 kilometres of the drainage canals.

Their work has also left a lasting positive impression on the local people.

Abyei townspeople gather next to an excavator used for road-making. — Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Abyei townspeople gather next to an excavator used for road-making. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations

In addition, Vietnam’s Engineering Unit Rotation 1 coordinated with the Pakistani infantry unit to successfully organize a charity medical examination and treatment session and distribute gifts to 168 indigenous women and children at Amiet market.

Up to now, the good image of “Uncle Ho’s soldiers”, the prestige of Vietnam has been spread throughout Abyei. The Mayor of Abyei sent his praise and thanks to the officers and employees of Vietnam’s Military Engineering Unit Rotation 1 to the UNISFA head of mission.

The Engineering Unit Rotation 1 and Level-2 Field Hospital Rotation 4 departed for the UN peacekeeping missions in Abyei and South Sudan on April 27, 2022.

This is the first time Vietnam has sent military engineers to join UN peacekeeping operations. It is the unit-level formation with the largest number of members ever participating in UN peacekeeping missions.

The staff members of the Engineering Unit Rotation 1, which debuted on November 17, 2011, help provide humanitarian assistance and support the UN delegations in keeping and re-establishing peace in the area.

They also ensure transport, perform road maintenance, help reconstruct the UN base, and provide support for the local community by building community houses, schools, and other public facilities.

From June 2014 to August 2022, Vietnam has deployed 512 officers and soldiers to UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Abyei Area, along with the UN headquarters.

Hannah Nguyen