Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tribute to UNAMID peacekeeper - Memorial services for Lance Corporal Ahmed will be held in Nigeria and Darfur

In Memoriam: Lance Corporal John Ahmed
Source: African Union - United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)
23 March 2009
On the last day of his life John Ahmed could be found where his colleagues always knew to look for him: hard at work, ensuring the smooth passage of mail, messages and other information between his battalion and the rest of UNAMID.

The Nigerian Lance Corporal, who had only served with the Mission since last November, had in those four months swiftly acquired a reputation among his peers in Darfur as the most diligent of clerical officers. He was fast, he was thorough and he was someone who could be relied on to ensure the safe transmission of confidential information, a critical aptitude in such a position.

Lieutenant Colonel Johnson Irefin, Lance Corporal Ahmed’s commanding officer, says the peacekeeper – who served in West Darfur for three months before recently transferring to South Darfur – was among his best soldiers.

“His attitude was excellent and his approach to work was very encouraging. He was very dedicated,” Lieutenant-Colonel Irefin says, noting that Lance Corporal Ahmed was always prepared to go the extra mile to assist a colleague.

The 35-year-old was on his way back to the battalion’s headquarters at the “Super Camp” outside Nyala on 17 March when both his vehicle and another were ambushed by unknown gunmen. Lance Corporal Ahmed was shot in the ensuing firefight and later died on his way to El Fasher for medical treatment.

Warrant Officer Anthony Ekoja says he speaks for all of his colleagues when he describes his grief at Lance Corporal Ahmed’s death. Many are wearing black armbands in honour. “We all feel really sad and shocked. His death was so sudden,” he says simply.

Part of the reason for that grief is the sense of absence in so many lives now that Lance Corporal Ahmed has passed away. Quiet and serious thinking, he was a husband, a father to four children, a committed Christian and an apparently self-confessed “football addict”.

The Manchester United fan (his favourite player was Cristiano Ronaldo) suffered when his beloved team was thrashed by rivals Liverpool recently, and was a frequent contributor to inter-battalion games as an attacking midfielder.

But it was his faith that sustained him, both before and during his time in Darfur. Lance Corporal Ahmed attended church regularly and could often be found reading a religious book or involved in church activities, Warrant Officer Ekoja recalls.

Memorial services for Lance Corporal Ahmed will be held in both Nigeria and Darfur.

The blue helmet was the fourteenth UNAMID casualty as a result of hostile actions since the Mission took over operations from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) at the start of 2008.
+ + + Rest In Peace + + +

Flowers from Darfur, Western Sudan

Photo: Flowers in El-Fashir, northern Darfur, western Sudan (Photo by Andrew Heavens/Sudan Watch archives 2006)

[UNAMID link with thanks to Andrew Heavens' tweet from Khartoum]

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