“We were on an air patrol to meet with local communities in Mir Mir, a village in the Unity region, following reports of conflict in the area,” recalls Lieutenant-Colonel R.K. Sagoe, Commanding Officer of a battalion of UNMISS peacekeeper from Ghana. “Usually, during such interactions, we are met with great kindness by community leaders but this time there was a sense of urgency as soon as we were on the ground.”
The reason: a member of the community had been hit by stray bullets during an inter-communal clash that took place the previous night.
“The man had sustained injuries to his face, neck, and shoulder. He needed help and immediate medical attention,” reveals Platoon Commander Lieutenant Totein Sulbein.
The peacekeepers from Ghana sprung into action, with Staff Sergeant Abigail Bredzei, a member of the patrol and the battalion’s medical attendant, dressing the patient’s injuries, administering a pain reliever and stabilizing infusions, while others from her team liaised with UNMISS headquarters in Juba to arrange an urgent evacuation for the wounded man.
“The response from headquarters was speedy and we were able to fly the injured man from Mir Mir to Bentiu where he went into surgery. We are told that he is stable now,” states Lt. Colonel Sagoe. “As peacekeepers whose main task is to protect civilians across South Sudan, this is the best outcome we could hope for,” he adds.
For her part, Hiroko Hirahara, Head of Field Office, UNMISS Bentiu, feels that quick response time is key when faced with such situations. “When you have someone so severely injured, every second count. I’m very glad that the patrol team was able to coordinate all the moving parts to make sure we provide swift and timely medical assistance to save a life. I’m thankful to everyone in Juba for their support as well,” she avers. “After all, we are here to protect civilians and save lives,”
“The man would have died if we all hadn’t acted rapidly,” says Lieutenant Sulbein. “For us, as peacekeepers, being able to help communities when they need us the most, is always a cause for celebration.”
UNMISS routinely goes beyond its mandate to help the South Sudanese people, especially in terms of providing health care and carrying out lifesaving and critical tasks.