Impressive Uncle Ho's soldiers in international friends’ hearts

Thursday, 2019-02-07 09:30:07
 Font Size:     |        Print

Doctors from Vietnam’s level-2 field military hospital performing their first operation at the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
 Font Size:     |  

NDO – Despite carrying out missions far away from home, under harsh weather conditions, with potential security risks and epidemics, in recent years the Vietnam People's Army forces participating in the United Nations peacekeeping operations have made great efforts to overcome difficulties and successfully complete their assigned tasks, leaving a good impression of Uncle Ho's soldiers in the hearts of international friends'.

New tasks, new challenges

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, Deputy Minister of Defense cum Head of the Ministry of Defence's Steering Committee on the Vietnam People's Army participation in the UN peacekeeping operation, said that Vietnam participating in the UN peacekeeping activities is a breakthrough to consistently realise the Party's foreign policy on an independent, autonomous, peaceful, cooperative and developing manner, while clearly demonstrating the role of the People's Army in the nation’s revolutionary cause and fulfilling its international obligations. After successful appointing officers to participate in the UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan and Central African Republic, in early October 2016, Vietnam continued to send its first level-2 field hospital to take their tasks in South Sudan. This is a new step, demonstrating Vietnam's determination to implement its responsibilities with respect to international security, peace and humanity.

In order to operate in an international environment, each soldier must have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge and capabilities, such as foreign language proficiency and knowledge of international law, especially that their standard of skill must meet the UN’s requirement. Military forces sent to work abroad must be placed under the command of the mission in the host country, and at the same time obeying the command and direction from the Vietnamese Ministry of Defence. In which, the force participating in the UN peacekeeping mission must maintain its Party units and other representative agencies’ activities under the force management, as well as implementing regular tasks as domestic army units.

"Over the past years, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of Defence have focused on leading and directing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to actively coordinate with other relevant agencies and units to select people; coordinating to organise training courses and sending officials and employees to study both at home and abroad, while at the same time, enlisting the support from other countries to be well prepared. In fact, over recent years, Vietnam has sent its army officers and the No. 1 level-2 field hospital’s staff to participate in the UN peacekeeping activities, and they have successfully fulfilled the tasks ordered by the UN, thus winning high recognition from international friends,” Colonel Hoang Kim Phung, Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (under the Ministry of Defence), said.

Unforgettable memories in the early days of the mission

Having just returned from the mission in South Sudan, Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Viet Hung, Deputy Head of the Local Affairs Office – under the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping, shared that it is the first time Vietnam has sent a level-2 field hospital to join the UN peacekeeping and they haven’t got much experience. However, with the help of the UN and other countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States and the mission, combined with the dynamism and creativity of Vietnamese officers, it only cost the team 24 days to install the field hospital and put it into operation in Bentiu, South Sudan. In comparison, other countries deploying teams to the Mission could take two or three months, even up to six months, to enable the operation of their field hospitals.

Remarkably, at the end of October 2018, the Vietnamese level-2 field hospital No. 1 officially opened. At 8pm on that day, the hospital received an emergency case of a female soldier from the Mongolian infantry battalion, who suffered an acute appendicitis in critical condition. The hospital quickly carried out procedures and performed the surgery from 11:30pm to about 2:30am the next morning. In Vietnam, appendicitis surgery is a "daily affair" and can be performed with ease, but for the level-2 field hospital by the UN, the procedures and professional qualifications of doctors are required to be at the highest levels. Therefore, during that night, everyone in the hospital was awake all night watching the surgery information. The operation was a success and the patient was discharged from hospital after five days of treatment in the excitement of not only the hospital’s staff, but also the joy and admiration of officials and employees from the Mongolian unit.

Sports activities help soldiers relieve stress after their on-duty shifts.

Lieutenant Colonel, Doctor Bui Duc Thanh, Director of the hospital, said that on the first day of carrying out the task in South Sudan, the unit faced a range of difficulties due to severe weather conditions, inadequate facilities and officials and employees being missing from home while working abroad. The unit’s Party committee and commanders have done well in the political and ideological education work, encouraging the staff to raise their responsibilities in performing tasks. In particular, the hospital also brought in several modern machines and medical equipment that are not subjected to UN reimbursement, along with professional specialists. Therefore, the number of patients coming to the hospital increased suddenly. In the first month of operation, the facility carried out medical examination and treatment for 120 patients, who are officials and staff of the UN and also local people, four times higher than the previous version of the level-2 field hospital No. 1. In particular, the hospital performed three surgeries and cured multiple malaria cases.

Only in a short time after its launch, the hospital has not only made a good impression on officials and staff of the UN mission offices working in the north subdivision, but also received praise from the health department of the UN Mission in South Sudan. Representatives from other level-2 field hospitals run by other countries and working groups of NGOs have visited the Vietnamese hospital to learn and exchange experiences.

Spreading Vietnamese love and culture

Having just returning from the Central African Republic, Lieutenant Colonel Le Ngoc Son, Deputy Head of the Advisory - Planning Office under the Vietnam’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations, recalled his memories. In 2017, Vietnam sent five officers to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) to deploy their assigned tasks, including three alternate positions and two new ones. Although the security situation in Central African Republic has changed unpredictably over the past years, the Vietnamese officers still quickly get familiar with their work right from their first days at the mission. They were trusted and assigned by the mission to serve as the military observation team leader and head of the intelligence division, along with other key positions.

The climate is very harsh in the Central African Republic, with prolonged hot weather leading to vegetable scarce. To ensure the source of vegetables for daily meals, Lieutenant Colonel Son and his teammates brought seeds and cultivated various vegetables, while at the same time instructing local people to grow their own vegetables. The work paid off and made officers from other missions very impressed, and they also ordered to buy vegetables from the local people.

The Vietnamese mission also organised six classes, attracting more than 150 children of different ages and levels. This is an unprecedented activity at the MINUSCA, becoming a highlight and being highly appreciated by the mission and praised in multiple conferences and meetings. The teaching model of Vietnamese officers has been spreading and has received the support of international organisations, such as the UNICEF and other NGOs and local agencies. The working group also met students from the University of Bangui, discussing the establishment of a volunteer student club, with a desire to support more children and local people. So far, the volunteer activities have been replicated across the country.

On the occasion of Vietnamese important holidays, Lunar New Year (Tet) or anniversary of the People's Army of Vietnam founding day (December 22), Lieutenant Colonel Son's group also organised commemorative activities and invited representatives from the UN mission, as well as officers and staff from other nations and local people to attend. They also coordinated the organisation of cultural activities, introducing international friends to the country and people of Vietnam, as well as about Uncle Ho’s soldiers. "Major General Traore Sidiki - Deputy-Force Commander of MINUSCA not only expressed his respect to the heroic history of the Vietnamese nation, but also appreciated the positive and effective contributions of Vietnam in the field of UN peacekeeping operations, including the contributions of Vietnamese officials at the MINUSCA,” Lieutenant Colonel Son shared.

Colonel Hoang Kim Phung said that in welcoming the 2019 Tet, in addition to the support standards from the Ministry of Defence, the Vietnam’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations also sent additional items associated with the traditional Tet homeland to the working groups and the level-2 field hospital to decorate their rooms, welcome the New Year's Eve and make traditional chung cake for Tet. This year, the Vietnamese mission has a special Tet with their guests of officers and representatives from the UN agencies and a number of overseas Vietnamese and Vietnamese employees working in UN organisations at the mission coming together to celebrate the traditional Tet.

Tet has come! In the new spring joy, it is heartwarming to remember the confession of Major, Doctor Phan Tan Dan from the level-2 field hospital No. 1: "Celebrating Tet far away from home, we always look forward to the homeland. We tell ourselves to follow our predecessor’s steps, ready to receive and fulfill the assigned tasks, contributing a small part to raise the prestige and position of the country and the People's Army of Vietnam in the international arena.”

On November 26, 2018, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, sent a letter to Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Head of Vietnam's Permanent Mission to the UN, to praise and express deep gratitude to the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the successful and rapid deployment of its level-2 field hospital No. 1 in South Sudan.