Brasília (DF) – A Brazilian Army officer started a pioneer work serving one of the most recent United Nations (UN) missions in the African continent. Since June 2022, Major Gabriela Rocha Bernardes has served as a reporting officer for the Permanent Ceasefire Committee of the United Nations Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), a function that aims to monitor and record ceasefire agreements and negotiations in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
UNITAMS is a special political mission, created to assist the African country in its current period of political instability. Since 2020 it has been supporting the transition to democratic rule without the use of troops. The Ceasefire Committee is the focal point of the Brazilian official’s work. Based in the city of El Fasher, North Darfur, it is accessible only by air transport provided by the UN itself twice a week. Other challenges are the security requirements to be met due to the still ongoing instability, and the fact that the region no longer has a military base, destroyed and looted in December last year.
“This is a transition assistance mission, which aims to monitor violations of the ‘Juba Agreement for Peace in Sudan’ signed in 2020. This moment is now of ceasefire, of ending conflict situations, in order to allow the UN and other international agencies to contribute to the stability of the region with new mechanisms that lead to the implementation and subsequent maintenance of peace,” explains the major.
The officer also emphasized the importance of developing a job that had not yet been performed by Brazilian military personnel. “This is the first and only position occupied by our country in UNITAMS. I hope that others will be opened and that I will gain a lot of experience to pass on to the military that will replace me. Besides being new, UNITAMS has a very small staff, which increases the challenges of the mission. Major Gabriela was the third military to present herself as staff officer at the Headquarters in El Fasher, and, for the time being, only ten others, of different nationalities, will be deployed in the five sectors of the Committee spread over the Darfur region to perform their duties for one year.
According to the official, the unprecedented nature of the activity has turned the mission into a process of discovery. “It is being an absolutely new experience. This is not a peace mission like the ones we are used to working in. There are Brazilians around here in missions in South Sudan, in the Central African Republic, including some women, exercising in the field all the expertise that Brazil already has in peace missions. We have been supporting each other and exchanging many experiences. Even so, I am discovering, in practice, a lot of new things, not only because of the political characteristic of the mission, for not having troops, but also because it is the only Muslim country in which Brazil currently operates under the aegis of the UN.
The soldier also emphasized that the work will be fundamental to add knowledge. “I am sure that this will be very important for Brazil, and in particular for the Brazilian Army, because it will contribute to the training and orientation of other military personnel to perform functions, such as this, which are still rarely performed by our country, opening more space for us to act within the UN System.”
Source: Brazilian Army Social Communication Center *** Translated by the DEFCONPress team ***