UN peacekeepers providing AIDS awareness training

ERITREA-ETHIOPIA: UN peacekeepers providing AIDS awareness training

©  IRIN/Anthony Mitchell

Legwaila Joseph Legwaila

ADDIS ABABA, 4 Jun 2002 (PLUSNEWS) - The UN peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has taken the lead in providing training on how to tackle the HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping Africa.

It has trained troops from both countries, as well as its own peacekeepers, to instruct fellow soldiers and civilians on how to combat the virus and prevent its spread.

The head of the mission, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, said UNMEE was fighting a war against the virus.

"We are responding to the global war against the HIV/AIDS pandemic by undertaking this training of trainers course," he said, in a speech to troops from the Eritrean Defence Force

"As in any war that is being fought with the objective of winning and/or neutralising the enemy, knowledge about its capabilities, resources, tactics and limitations, become critically important."

The troops, who have graduated from the training scheme, will use their skills to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and introduce protection programmes. They have been given literature to help educate their communities when they return home.

Legwaila said fighting the virus was akin to peacekeeping – to save lives and stop destruction. "The general concept of peacekeeping operations places a premium on the cessation of hostilities, separation of forces and consequently, the prevention of destruction."

"This United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea will have, by the end of its mandate, set new standards for all United Nations peacekeeping operations, and new examples of
cooperative work between belligerents that have committed themselves to peace," Legwaila added.


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