Prayers for the safe return of our IMT, UN peacekeepers

National 2 minutes, 28 seconds


A THANKSGIVING ceremony was jointly held yesterday for the safe return of the 10th International Monitoring Team (IMT) bound for Mindanao Philippines and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) peacekeepers under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Present in the “doa selamat” ceremony were Deputy Minister of Defence (MinDef), Dato Paduka Hj Mustappa Hj Sirat, Commander of RBAF Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih Abdullah and other senior officials as well as staff of MinDef and RBAF.

The peacekeepers comprised 10 members of the IMT contingent and 26 of UNIFIL contingent.

Two of the RBAF’s UNIFIL peacekeepers shared their experiences with The Brunei Times on the sidelines of the ceremony.

Brunei Head of UNIFIL, Major Saifullizan Md Tuah said that the main challenge of the mission is to accomplish the objective of the UN resolution 1701.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 is a resolution aimed at resolving the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, according to the UN website.

The task of Brunei peacekeepers in Lebanon is to follow the directives set by the United Nations, he said.

“One of the directives is patrolling. In terms of patrolling, we try to avoid any kind of incidents; for example rocket launching,” said Major Saifullizan.

His role as peacekeeper under the directives of the UN is to obtain community support to ensure the safety of the community.

“We have Lebanese language assistance (interpreter) from the UN’s headquarters who helps us to communicate with the village people,” added Major Saifullizan.

“We want to remind the Lebanese that our role there is peacekeeping,” he added.

Major Saifullizan acknowledged that the strong Lebanese family bonds are similar to those in Brunei which allows him to introduce Brunei culture. This enables him to communicate with the Lebanese.

“We introduce Brunei’s Malay traditional culture in some parts of the villages,” he said, adding that one of the items introduced was Malay traditional attire.

Meanwhile, Corporal Siti Azlina Hj Asli, who is part of the nursing unit in UNIFIL said that her role was in civilian military cooperation.

Providing free medical assistance to injured Lebanese is one of the peacekeeper's role in Lebanon.

Patients in Lebanon have to pay for their medical treatment. This is where a peacekeeper like Siti Azlina plays her role in community service.

One of the alarming experiences she had was to treat a young boy’s skin that was burnt from oil spill.

“I was told that the boy was playing around while his parents were not around,” said Siti Azlina.

The RBAF in a statement said that the 26 RBAF personnel under the command of Malaysian Battalion 850-1 returned home on October 3.

Meanwhile, present at the ceremony and taking part in the sprinkling of scented flowers were Deputy Minister of Defence, Dato Paduka Hj Mustappa Hj Sirat, Commander of RBAF Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Major General Dato Paduka Seri Mohd Tawih Abdullah, and senior officers from MinDef and RBAF.

The Brunei Times