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Sergeant Jean d’Amour Nsabimana (Rwanda) and Master Corporal Prosper Ndikumana (Burundi), who fell in action on 13 and 15 January in Bangui and Grimari respectively, during the recent post-election violence, were honoured by the United Nations and the Central African Republic (CAR) during a memorial ceremony held at the MINUSCA headquarters on Wednesday, 20 January 2021.

The peacekeepers were decorated with one of the highest orders in the CAR – the “Chevaliers de l’ordre de la reconnaissance centrafricaine”, in the presence of the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Denise Brown, the MINUSCA Force Commander, General Daniel Sidiki Traoré, the Chief of Staff of the Central African Army, General Zéphirin Mamadou, as well as Mission civilian and uniformed personnel.

In his tribute to the fallen soldiers who had given their lives in the service of a country on its quest for peace and stability, General Mamadou appointed , on behalf of the Head of State, posthumously – to the rank of Chevalier – Sergeant Jean d’Amour Nsabimana and Master Corporal Prosper Ndikumana.

Aged 39, Master Corporal Ndikumana had 20 years of service in various units of the Burundi National Defence Forces. He previously served as a peacekeeper with the 29th Battalion of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). He joined MINUSCA on 26 July 2020. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

Sergeant Nsabimana was a married father of three. Born in 1979, he joined the Rwandan army in 1994 – where he served as a section commander in the 99th Infantry Battalion. He was deployed to MINUSCA on 9 March 2020.

“When he lost his life, the late Master Corporal Prosper Ndikumana did not fail in his task; he was on the front line, rushing to protect the innocent population panicked by repeated attacks. He was a very reliable person, who always acted as a man of honour,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jean Pierre Hakizimana, the commander of the Burundian Battalion (BURBATT), in his eulogy.

The Rwandan contingent commander, Jean Baptiste Safari, described Jean d’Amour Nsabimana as a valued comrade-in-arms. “We have lost a brave, disciplined and peaceful soldier, who accomplished every mission with professionalism.”

“On behalf of the Special Representative, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding commitment of the Republic of Burundi and the Republic of Rwanda in their unwavering commitment to peacekeeping operations around the world and to MINUSCA in particular,” said Denise Brown, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, while speaking at the ceremony.

She highlighted the difficult conditions under which peacekeepers operate and lauded the dedication of the MINUSCA Force, alongside the Central African Armed Forces, to the protection of civilians. “We will remain committed to the values and principles of the United Nations and the work will continue, even if our hearts are always heavier when we lose one of our soldiers.” She added: “We will stand united in our commitment to ensure that armed groups no longer threaten the life and future of the country.”

The 750-strong Burundian contingent has been deployed in the Central African Republic since 2014, initially under the MISCA banner and then integrated into MINUSCA after the transfer of responsibility between the two missions. The Rwandan military contingent, of similar size, has also been present in CAR since the beginning of the Mission.

The operations of both contingents are multifaceted and include tasks such as securing Bangui and other parts of the country, protecting prominent members of the government and national institutions as well as conducting guard and patrol duty to reassure the population and help maintain security.

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