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DUSHANBE, Oct. 9 – The first Tajik peacekeepers, five employees of the Tajik Interior Ministry, flew to Sudan as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission. They will remain in the province of Darfur for at least one year.
The peacekeepers will help restructure the police service and observe and monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement.
“The Tajik peacekeepers include police officers who won a contest conducted by the U.N.,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Takhir Normatov. “Twenty-five participated in the contest, but just five were chosen for the peacekeeping operation on the African continent."
Normatov said “The main criteria for selection were knowledge of English, ability to drive, and [proficiency with] a firearm.” He noted that this is the first time representatives of Tajikistan have participated in a U.N. peacekeeping mission. “We plan at the end of the year to send a second group of seven peacekeepers to one of the conflict zones.”
Another Interior Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Abduzhabbor Shamsov said the republic’s participation in the U.N. peacekeeping mission will raise Tajikistan’s influence in the international arena. “This is also practical support for the U.N. peacekeeping initiatives aimed at resolving interethnic conflicts and preventing armed conflicts worldwide,” he said. “Tajikistan, with its experience in conflict resolution and post-conflict situations, can make a contribution to peacekeeping that represents the country honourably in this mission.”