An African Integrated Peace Operations Course has closed in Kigali with a call for cooperation between armed forces and civilians to enhance peace and security among Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) member states.
The five-day course which started 7 May 2023 to 12 May 2023 attracted 34 four Military, Police and civilian personnel from nine EASF member states, namely: Rwanda (host), Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Seychelles, Somalia and Uganda.
The objective of the course was to enhance the knowledge and understanding of integrated crisis management approaches, as well as to enhance collaboration and coordination among the different actors, namely: military, police, and civilian components.
The one-week course was organized in partnership between the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre (FINCENT), the Rwanda Ministry of Defence (Minadef) through the Rwanda Peace Academy (RPA) and the EASF Secretariat.
The course was conducted by instructors and facilitators from Finland, Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom.
RPA Director, Colonel (Rtd) Jill Rutaremara who officiated the closing ceremony on behalf of Minadef said that the course will enhance the knowledge and understanding of integrated crisis management approaches, as well as collaboration and coordination amongst the Military, Police and Civilian components.
Rutaremara said that it is not enough to train but also work together in order to attain the required objectives of the integrated training.
“It is through training together, working together, exercising together and carrying out joint planning and implementation that full integration can be realized despite the fact that different components have different specialized roles. This was one of the essences of this course,” Rutaremara said.
Through class and syndicate discussions as well as exercises, trainees were able to learn and appreciate the roles and responsibilities of their components as well as those of other components that they work with in areas of deployment.
Though coming from different command backgrounds, the trainees were also able to appreciate the importance of planning and working together, of sharing information and collaborating with all the partners and stakeholders in an integrated mission.
The course also enhanced understanding of the approaches of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and sub-regional groups such as the EASF to peace support operations.
Even though trainees won’t be deployed as yet, this training means that the trained components are ready for deployment in case of any conflict breaking out in the region.
With this, Rutaremara called for a realization of sustainable peace and security in the region.
For instance, he said that protection of civilians can only be effective if is comprehensive and holistic and inclusive of protection against other forms of violence such Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) as well as Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV).
“Peacebuilding programmes such as Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) are central if sustainable peace and security is to be realized,” Rutaremara said.
Trained Civilians like Dr. Beatrice Mironko, a Professor of Applied Linguistics at University of Rwanda, who represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the course will enable the civilian component to cooperate and work closely with armed forces in peace building.
“The course has enabled me, as a civilian intervening in any case of a conflict and peace building on humanitarian ground, to know how to deal with other organs and instead of risking it all, I can use the security organs to calm down the situation without harm,” Mironko said.
Chief Instructor, Jouni Vainio said that the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre is pleased to support the training but with a future objective of empowering the EASF to conduct the same training course itself.
“This aim is that this support will not be needed any more and so far you are in a good path towards doing this (training) yourself,” Vainio said, with hope that the EASF will build its own model of crisis management through the AU.