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Belize Military to Participate in United Nations Peace Keeping Operations

Last week, Cabinet announced its support for the Belize Security Services to look into the possibility of having their members participate in United Nations Peace Keeping Operations as military observers or staff officers. Minister Mira explains more.

Oscar Requena, Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Border Security: “We have served in UN Peacekeeping Forces before. I was one of those that served in Haiti in 1995. That was I think the first time that the Belize Defence Force actually participated in a peacekeeping operation in Haiti as part of CARICOM. The possibility is there, it is open to all members of the United Nations who want to participate in peacekeeping operations and I think we in the Belize Defence Force now we feel that we are able to contribute to international peace and security and we want to do our part as members of the United Nations. The Belize Defence Force is highly trained, we have a lot of our officers who go to the best schools in the world and we want them to contribute back to our international obligations which is peace and security so I think it’s a good thing that Cabinet approved that we look into that possibility. It will not only benefit the BDF but the country on a whole, it gives us that little standard and status in the region. As I said before we participated in Haiti as part of CARICOM Battalion. I was part of that peace-keeping mission that went to Haiti and we haven’t done it since then and I think the time is now. I believe that we have very well-trained officers and soldiers and we want to do our part.”

According to Mira, this will give security officers the opportunity to not only gain exposure but also earn some extra cash.

Oscar Requena, Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Border Security: “There are many benefits that the Belize Defence Force can get from these missions. One is monetary. The United Nations does pay those soldiers that are doing peacekeeping missions. The other is that we do get paid for the equipment that we use so it’s not for free, we’re not doing it for free. All the equipment that we take, that we use is being compensated by United Nations. In the past the BDF did pay us our salaries, the basic salaries but you do get additional from the United Nations and as well as for the equipment that we use. We haven’t come up with a number as yet because we also have our responsibilities here in Belize but we want to probably start with the staff officers and those will be officers going to work in the headquarters. We had had the opportunity before in Afghanistan which we didn’t take up. We were very close in sending someone to Afghanistan to work alongside the Canadian forces unfortunately at the very last minute the government decided not to do it but we are now in a position where we want to make sure that our officers and soldiers get that exposure of international peacekeeping missions.”