Senior military and police officers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Wednesday completed a two-day virtual training course on human rights and gender, and the protection of civilians in peace support operations.
The training, the second since the inception of the Covid-19-imposed restriction, is to ensure continuity in the implementation of the mission’s mandate, despite disruptions brought about by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the opening, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, noted that it is imperative that the mission continues delivering on its mandate, despite the global virus by embracing technology.
“The mission finds itself in a situation where it has to protect its personnel from Covid-19, while at the same time it has to discharge its mandate ensuring its troops don’t run foul of applicable international laws. The possibility of using technology like Zoom, Webex and other platforms has come to our rescue,” Ambassador Madeira, who is also the Head of Mission said on Tuesday.
Organized by the Protection, Human Rights and Gender (PHRG) unit of AMISOM, the training targeted 26 participants- 15 male and 11 female officers drawn from AMISOM’s Sector 1 and the AMISOM Police Headquarters, to ensure that the officers mainstream gender and human rights in their work.
The SRCC urged the officers to take the issue of protection of civilians, especially women and children, seriously, given its centrality to AMISOM’s mandate in Somalia.
“Paragraph 17 of the latest United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC Resolution 2520) strongly underlines the continued importance of AMISOM forces carrying out their mandate in full compliance with participating states, obligations, and international law, including with regards to the protection of civilians, especially women and children,” Ambassador Madeira stated.
Introducing the course content, Adebayo Kareem, Head of AMISOM Protection, Human Rights and Gender unit, underscored the importance of the refresher courses, in reinforcing knowledge that the officers had earlier acquired, so as to ensure compliance.
“You have had a number of trainings, either as police, or military officers in the areas of the law; International Humanitarian Law, human rights, gender, and protection. However, because of the uniqueness of AMISOM, we need to remind you of those trainings you might have taken a few years back. So, we always organize these trainings within the mission area, and the pre-deployment training we do in your countries’ capitals,” Adebayo told the participants.
The training course, which is mandatory for all uniformed peacekeepers, aimed to reinforce the officers’ knowledge and skills in the area of human rights and gender, to ensure the observance and protection of those rights.
During the training, the officers covered several topics such as Strengthening Women Protection in Peacekeeping Operations, Introduction to Gender in Peace Support Operations and the Role of Gender Focal Points, and Awareness of Somali Culture, Islam and the International Human Rights Law.
Other topics included Humanitarian Concepts in Conflict and Post-Conflict Contexts, Protection of Women and Children, Human Rights Awareness for AMISOM Personnel, and Introduction to Civilian Casualty Tracking, and Analysis Response Cell.
Ambassador Madeira noted that the intensified training in the area of human rights and gender have paid off, with no accusations leveled against AMISOM in the recent past and urged the officers to comply with all guidelines and applicable laws.
“AMISOM counts very highly on your commitment to this process as we continue working together towards complying with all applicable laws while discharging our mandate in Somalia and also building a Somali security force that respects and complies with both national and international human rights, norms and standards,” said Ambassador Madeira.