30 May 2011 – International Day of UN Peacekeepers' Day was celebrated in several Sudanese towns over the past two days with processions, land clearing exercises and tree-planting ceremonies.
In Wau, Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, a procession of UNMIS staff and local residents led by the local police band marched from Freedom Square to the town stadium on 30 May to be received by UNMIS Acting Sector Coordinator Norberto Niyodusenga.
Addressing the crowd, UNMIS Acting Sector Commander noted that UN peacekeepers had supported the country's Comprehensive Peace Agreement by assisting in political transition, governance, law and order, elections, humanitarian aid programmes and resettling returnees.
Also attending the Wau event was State Minister of Health Dr. Isaac Cleto Hassan, who called on UN agencies to collaborate with the state government in providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced people of Abyei.
Celebrating the Day in Yambio on 30 May, Western Equatoria State, the UNMIS Bangladeshi contingent spent two days clearing land allocated by local authorities for the resettlement of 101 returnee households. The 50 soldiers also graded an access road to the area on the outskirts of Yambio.
An event to commemorate the Yambio activity was attended by high-level state government and military officials as well as returnee representatives. The activity was dedicated to Capt. Mohammad Iftekahar Alam (Bangladesh), who died in a car accident on 31 January while traveling in a convoy from Maridi to Yambio.
The peacekeepers handed over hand tools used for land preparation, including bangas, machetes and furrows, to the community for use in for further clearing.
In Bor, the state capital of Jonglei State, UNMIS staff and local residents celebrated the day with a march accompanied by music from local artists from the state secretariat to Freedom Square.
The event was attended by Jonglei State Governor Lt. Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk, high level government officials, heads of UN agencies and UNMIS State Coordinator Rose Sakala.
After the celebration, UNMIS planted 66 different species of trees, including mantalia, dornaneck and jacaranda. Two symbolic trees were planted at the square, while the rest were put into the ground at Majok Mach Primary School and the Women Association Centre.
Atem de Gak Atem, director of forestry in the state ministry of agriculture, said the ministry would remember UNMIS for the tree contribution. "I am very grateful to witness UNMIS planting in our centre and I am assuring everyone that the Women Association in Bor will take care of these trees until ... they mature."
Governor Juuk expressed appreciation for UNMIS' logistical support during last year's elections, the January referendum and numerous other activities they had carried out for the people of Southern Sudan.
Ms. Sakala said the trees were part of UNMIS' contribution to state forestry, with the number 66 reflecting the number of years the UN had existed since it was formed in 1945.