Bangladesh female soldiers win hearts in DR Congo
Female soldiers of Bangladesh Army are playing a vital role in the ongoing peace operations under Bangladesh Rapidly Deployable Battalion (BANRDB) in Northern Sector of Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Brig Gen Chowdhury Mohammad Azizul Haque Hazary, sector commander of Northern Sector of UN Peacekeeping Force in Bunia, told the Daily Observer that Bangladesh Army first time introduced female soldiers to the UN peacekeeping mission.
This accentuates the fact that the role of female soldiers have evolved within the modern concept of Multi-Dimensional Peace Operations, Brig Gen Hazary added.
BANRDB Female Engagement Team (FET) deployed in the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) in Ituri province in Congo. The Team composed of female soldiers with vast experience have developed trust-based and enduring relationships with women and children in the local communities they encounter during patrols in the BANRDB area of operations in Ituri.
The FET’s operational responsibilities in the Bunia include the conduct of routine long, medium and short range patrols. During such patrols, members of the Team encounter deprived women and children who are a substantial portion of the population of Bunia. In order to effectively engage the population, the BANRDB used the FET members.
The FET is used to conduct reconnaissance and battlefield visualization as part of the operational task assigned to BANRDB. The FET also carries out targeted operations as directed by BABRDB. The operations are conducted in highly mobile and versatile manner and in strict compliance with the MONUSCO mandate and international law.
The core mandate of the Peace Operations Bunia is Protection through the Projection. The inclusion of the female soldiers of Bangladesh on combat patrols facilitates better Army in UN mission interaction and boosts the confidence of the locals in the communities in Ituri. The FET on many occasions has obtained information that has assisted the mission to conduct preventative deployments aimed at Protection of Civilians.
The BANRDB FET has undertaken a number of Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities in rural Bunia as part of the mandate of the mission. They provided educational, medical and socio-economic support to the local populace. The aim is to win the hearts and minds of the Congolese people.
The FET distributed books to school pupils and also shared foodstuffs and drinking water to the children and teachers during such interactions at Apasi village in Bunia area. The medical team of the FET provided general medical care among others to the local population during operational visits to the various local communities. Other CIMIC activities undertaken by the FET include visits and donations to orphanages, tree planting exercise and clean-up exercises in the various communities.
The BABRDB FET has already proven to be an invaluable assert for the MONUSCO mission.
Col Imtaj, contingent commander of BANRDB, said FET member performed as combat patrols, educational support and role model to women.
They also engendered a change of mind-set and whip the enthusiasm of the local population of Ituri province, Col Imtaj added. The confidence of the local population within the local communities has improved as a result of the operations of the FET, he said.
Lt Col Abdullah Ibn Zaid, director of ISPR, said the relationship established by the FET in the local communes has won the hearts and minds of the Congolese people.
The FET collect information from local people by local engagement, he said.