The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has tasked troops deployed for peace keeping missions to avoid sexual violence and exploitation of civilians caught in armed conflicts.
The team Lead, Governance, Peace and Security, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Mr Matthew Alao gave the charge during the graduation of “Comprehensive Protection of Civilians Course 33/23” organised by the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peace Keeping Centre (MLAILKPC) in partnership with the UNDP and the government of Japan in Abuja.
He charged the participants to avoid sexual violence and exploitation during deployments
He said the value of the “Enhancing National Capacities for Counter-Violent Extremism, Anti-Piracy and Protection of civilians project” course to global peace and stability, ensuring the protection of ,safety and wellbeing of civilians in armed conflicts, as well as contributions to attainment of SDGs by 2030 was substantial.
He said ” Having well trained military and paramilitary officers, and civilians alike on the rudiments to effectively protect civilians in armed conflict will reduce civilians casualties in war time,promote civil-military relations,improve professionalism and build trust and confidence in peace support operations.
” I therefore, encourage the beneficiaries of this course to nurture the knowledge acquired within the past two weeks and apply them in all related assignments ”
The Commander Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peace Keeping Centre (MLAILKPC) Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye said contemporary conflicts have become increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
Therefore, governments and their militaries must shift priority from capturing territories to protection of civilians during armed conflicts.
He said such conflicts are often internal conflicts and struggles over power and resources, social and economic inequality, or ethnic and religious divides.
“These conflicts are often asymmetric and driven by non-state actors against national forces. This is the nature of conflict that our dear continent of Africa is currently faced with; especially the West African sub-region. As in most conflicts of similar nature, civilians constitute the majority of the people impacted by the conflicts either as intented or collateral targets.
“The priority of governments and their militaries therefore must shift from the traditional objective of capturing and holding territories to the protection of civilians during armed conflicts”.
He stated that the United Nations efforts in raising the discussions on responsibility to protect and also developing the capacity of member states to protect civilians in armed conflicts underpins the need for this Course.
“That is why in this training, we gave you the necessary background and tools to enable you function effectively in any protection of civilians tasks in conflict environments.
He cited that experience has shown that protection tasks despite their dinstinct nature generate significant overlap. “This is particularly true at the tactical level, where assessment of protection threats, as well as the planning for and response to complex protection crises is likely to simultaneously involve elements from the protection of civilians, child protection and conflict related sexual violence realms”.
Therefore, in order to reflect these realities and prepare peacekeepers for the multi-dimentional realities on the ground, “the training package aimed to demonstrate the complex linkages between protection tasks and provide training guidance on how to prevent, deter and respond to interrelated threats.
“Having successfully completed the training, you are now not only equipped with the requisite skills to be effective protection actors in conflict situations but have also qualified to organize and deliver training on comprehensive protection of civilians. I therefore urge you not to shy away from such responsibilities whenever the situation avails itself”.
In his remarks, the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Kazuyoshi Matsunaga said Nigeria has a growing population and is the largest market economy in Africa.
He noted that Nigeria has a bright future ahead with its abundant mineral resources and the latest IT and innovation however, only 51 Japanese companies were doing business in Nigeria.
“I know that Africa is often in the news for its security challenges. However, I have seen firsthand the country’s great potential. Africa is a dynamic and growing economy with a young and talented population. I am confident that the future of Africa is bright.
Security problems do not happen in one country, nor can they be solved by one country. The significance of this training, which involves not only Nigeria but many other countries including Mali, Sierra Leone, Niger, Cameroon, Benin, Ghana, Liberia and Gambia, is not only to educate effectively but also to foster trust and bring neighbouring countries closer in their coordination efforts.
The training that they have received here will help to improve security in Africa and make the country more attractive to investment”.
He identified insecurity as the biggest barrier, adding that this year’s training course further focuses on capacity building for the protection of civilians in violent extremism and armed conflict.
“If the security situation improves in Nigeria, more Japanese companies will come to the country and expand their investments” He said
He stated that the training will also contribute to peace and stability in Nigeria.
“As the economy improves, poverty and unemployment, which are the root causes of insecurity, will improve, and security will further improve.
I hope that this positive feedback and interactions from Japan-Nigeria cooperation will contribute to Nigeria’s development.
However, the Government of Japan focuses not only Nigeria but all African region.
We have always recognized and stressed that “countering terrorism and violent extremism is a global priority” and “the importance of strengthening peace by preventing conflict and addressing the root causes of conflict”.