by Soni Methu
The 5th China Formed Police Unit to UNMIL is winding down its peacekeeping mission in Liberia, with most of the members taking off for China on Wednesday.
Their hopes are for a united, peaceful and successful Liberia. Their hearts are invested in the West African nation. And the feeling from the Liberian people is the same. Area residents we spoke to were shocked and sad to hear that the Chinese are concluding their mission in Liberia.
Many have built ties with the troops. Pastor Steven S. Enoch who runs a children’s home says the team is “God sent”. Having very little support from the government, the charity depends on friends to keep going. Chinese peacekeepers have been great friends to this home. They often bring food, books, medicine and spend time with the children.
Shi Jing, one of four women in the unit, cries as she narrates how one child in the home calls her, mama. Time spent with the children here provides comfort for the children and the troops who certainly miss their family back home.
Our team was fortunate enough to be embedded with them for 9 days during their last patrol. And it’s emotional for me to even say goodbye. So I can understand the sentiments of the people here.
UNMIL Police Commissioner Simon Blatchly, says it will be a shame to see the team go. “It’s interesting the quality of the people that are here. Generally when you are off to do something it’s done to a very high standard,” Blatchly said.
The Chinese team is the first to work in a tripartite agreement involving Liberian and Nigerian Unites, It is also the first to go beyond their call of duty to the UN peacekeeping mission. They trained 150 Liberian troops, something the UN hopes to replicate in other countries.
During the Ebola crisis this time the team played a huge role, even receiving an award from the United Nations.
The China Formed Police Unit is synonymous with discipline and generosity. The medical team ensures they prevent any infections in the camp by sanitizing their home every day.
The logistics team, with the support of Chinese government, have done a lot to make the camp a home away from home.
It’s not easy for them to leave, maybe harder for them to stay. The team agrees they have done their work and the mission a success, some say, it’s been a great experience for this unit in their first mission abroad.
Qu Zedong, Platoon one instructor says Liberia has become his seconds home. “This experience will stay with me my entire life. After I get back to China.”
Those we spoke to say, they certainly will miss the people, they believe the impact they have made here is something to be proud of.