Ghanaian policewomen in Somalia raise country’s flag high
Female police officers serving in peacekeeping operations and special political missions act as role models and inspire women and girls to advocate their own rights and pursue careers in law enforcement.
In the ongoing conflict resolution processes to establish peace in Somalia, women serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are playing a vital role in the conflict resolution process.
Key among these women are Ghanaian policewomen serving with AMISOM, which is at the centre of restoring peace in the war-torn country. The peacekeepers are at the forefront of counter-terrorism and campaigning to neutralise activities of al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups.
These Ghanaian policewomen are not only raising the flag of Ghana high through their exceptional performance but are also making a positive impact on the peacekeeping environments.
At about 7 a.m. on a sunny morning, a group of journalists from Ghana, on a field trip to Somalia at the invitation of AMISOM, went to a site in Mogadishu known as the Mamba Park, where the police contingent from the six contributing countries go on parade and are deployed every morning.
The journalists found a Ghanaian policewoman, who is the coordinator at the Joint Operation Command Centre (JOCC), at the Somalia Police Force headquarters in Mogadishu, Inspector Peace Abra Nyampo, issuing orders and doing the deployment.
Currently, Ghana has the highest number of policewomen among the six police contributing countries, which comprise Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Zambia.
There are 13 women from the Ghanaian Police, contingent of 37 individual police officers (IPOs), seconded to the AU Mission in Somalia, while Zambia places second with 11 women out of a 20-member contingent.
Nigeria has six women out of a contingent of 28, Kenya six out of 26, Uganda five out of 20 with Sierra Leone having two women out of 28 police personnel with AMISOM.
The Ghanaian team is made up of a deputy superintendent, two assistant superintendents, a chief inspector, three inspectors and four sergeants and two corporals, who are serving in the various units as either the head of the unit or playing leading roles.
Another member of the Ghanaian policewomen team is Deputy Superintendent of Police, Ms Susana Dery, who works as a mentor and helps the Somali Police Force to build the capacity of the local police at Beledweyne Sector in the Hirshabelle State, while the Situation Report Office is headed by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ms Hannah Adjei, who also serves as a Secretary to the Police Component of AMISOM in developing and preparing its concept of operations for 2018.
Based at the AMISOM Police Headquarters in Mogadishu, Ms Adjei, is also a rare police woman who drives the armored vehicles.
In an interview, Ms Adjei, who joined the Ghana Police Service to please her mother, said women peacekeepers had proven that they could perform the same roles to the same standards and under the same difficult conditions,as their male counterparts.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic, Mrs Nyampo said women were helping to make the peacekeeping force approachable to women in the community and were mentors for the local women.
“When they see us we give them hope, and we prove a point that as women we can equally work in sensitive and risky areas for the good of humanity and for a better world,” she added.
To establish a strong and professional local police force in Somalia, AMISOM is spearheading the training and mentoring of the Somali Police Force (SPF), a crucial factor to enable AMISOM to hand over security responsibility to competent local officers.
At the centre of the mentoring and training of the local police force are seven Ghanaian police women.
They work as mentors who coach and guide the local police force to enable them to assume more security responsibilities in the country.
They are Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ms Mary Ama Nani of Teamsite One in Mogadishu, Chief Inspector Patience Affum, based at the Baidoo Sector in the Southwest State, and of Teamsite Two in Mogadishu.
The rest are Sergeant Janet Turkson and Corporal Cornelia Logokwaga who are stationed at Teamsite Three in Mogadishu, Corporal Esther Annobea of Teamsite One, Mogadishu, and Ms Susana Dery
After completing one of the training sessions at one of the local police stations in Mogadishu, Sergeant Turkson told the Daily Graphic that the plan was aimed at building the capacity of the SPF to internationally acceptable standards to enable it to discharge its security duties.
Currently, “there is a transition process for AMISOM to hand over to the SPF and so after training we will allow the local police personnel to take us through the knowledge we have shared with them. They take us through the things they have leant. They lead in the mentoring classes and end up teaching us while we have also intensified the mentoring,” she stated.
Also when police personnel from the contributing countries arrive in Somalia, they have to go through the induction process at the AMISOM?police headquarters and Sergeant Dorson Benchi, one of the leaders, makes sure the personnel are oriented to live by the rules and vision of AMISOM.
Sergeant Regina Mensah, who is also at the training department, helps build the capacity of police personnel serving with AMISOM, with Inspector Dorcas Mensah shining at the Movement and Control Unit which supervises the movement of personnel in Somalia.
Another key person is Sergeant Dora Asante, who works as a personal assistant to the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to Somalia, Francisco Caetano Jose Madeir, at the AMISOM office in Mogadishu.