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Nation's peacekeepers empower Africa (4)

(China Daily)    09:09, October 09, 2018

Chinese peacekeepers protect local people in a camp where weapons were confiscated in Juba in May. Provided to China Daily

Crucial role

In an earlier interview with China Radio International, David Shearer, the special representative for South Sudan and head of UNMISS, commended the Chinese troops based in Juba and Wau, describing them as efficient, cooperative and amiable.

"This is crucial in building connections and bridges. We do not want to be seen as an invasion force, but are here to help. When we connect with people, we lower their anxiety and improve their ability to interact with us," Shearer said.

He said that completion of tasks undertaken by the engineering team in Wau had improved transportation access for both the UN and locals.

"Generally, the Chinese soldiers have set very high standards. Imagine a country the size of France with only 300 km of tarmac road that is underfunded and always washed away during the rainy season. The engineering team is doing an extremely important job."

Charles Ladu, the representative of Nakitun village, which is inside the weapon-free zone, said there is a semblance of normalcy under the Chinese peacekeeping patrol. Residents can attend school and even farm after the camp team repaired and dug a new water bore hole for them.

"We are safe. We suffered for a long time, and we thank them for our security and also for a school that will take care of our children," Ladu said.

Hillary Lukudu, headmaster of Nakitun Preschool, said the children will have a better learning environment once construction of a new school, carried out in partnership with UNICEF, is completed.

"We have more than 100 students registered, but only half attend, as the current facility cannot house them all. Education is the foundation of any nation, and with the help of the Chinese we are building this future."

China's approach has not gone unnoticed.

Chris Alden, a scholar from the International Relations Department of the London School of Economics and Political Science and co-author of China and Africa: Building Peace and Security Cooperation on the Continent, said China has redefined the dynamics for peace and security in Africa.

"China has taken an integrated approach in Africa, where it is putting strong emphasis on restoring peace while promoting development, too," Alden said at a forum organized by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies in June.

"We can see that the country is keen on developmental peace and using economic empowerment as an avenue toward peace."

While noting that Africa's traditional partners have long been involved on the continent, Alden said China's approach is a game-changer. "An empowered people will be more willing to look for alternative avenues for peace, and will not easily resort to war," he said.

Peter Kagwanja, CEO of the Africa Policy Institute in Kenya, said China is committed to continuing support for Africa's goal of "silencing the guns" as stated in the African Union's development blueprint.


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