Category Archives: UN Peacekeeping

UN honours Ethiopian peacekeepers

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

ADDIS ABABA– The United Nations has honoured Ethiopia for its significant contributions to UN’s vast Peacekeeping operations, the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs said on Friday.

At a ceremony held at UN headquarters in New York to mark International Day of UN Peacekeepers, the United Nations has awarded Ethiopia a medal in honour of its peacekeepers, who sacrificed their lives during line of duty in different peace keeping missions.

Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nation, received the medal awarded to Ethiopia.

The Ministry said Ethiopia has been actively participating in UN peacekeeping operations based on its firm conviction on the principle of collective security enshrined in the UN Charter since the establishment of the United Nations.

Ethiopia, with nearly 8,000 peacekeepers currently serving in UN Peacekeeping Missions around the world is Africa’s top contributing nation.

The horn of Africa’s nation is also world’s fourth largest contributor in terms of the number of its peacekeepers deployed under the United Nations umbrella

Currently Ethiopian Peacekeepers are serving in various UN peacekeeping missions including in Abyei, Darfur and South Sudan.

In addition, more than 4 thousand Ethiopian peacekeepers are deployed in Somalia as part of the AU peace support operation in that country.

The country has for years played significant role in the success of UN peacekeeping and its participation is the most tangible contribution to restoring international peace and security.



Ethiopia to Deploy Police Officers to South Sudan, Abyie




Addis Ababa-Ethiopia will deploy 30 police officers to South Sudan and Abyie region at the end of this month to support the peace keeping mission in the area, the Federal Police Commission announced.

Some 25 of the total police officers will be deployed to South Sudan, while the remaining five officers will be deployed to Abiye region under the UN umbrella, Commander Aster Andualem, Head of Foreign Training and Peacekeeping with the Commission told ENA.

According to the Commander, additional five officers are expected to be deployed to Darfur.The officers will provide training to the local police officers alongside with the peacekeeping mission.The Commission has provided pre-mission training, necessary for officers to be engaged in international missions locally, she added.

Previously, police officers who joined international peacekeeping missions had been receiving pre-missiontrainings in Kenya. Ethiopia has started to provide those trainings locally at the Ethiopian Police Collage.Ethiopia, a leading country in Africa in involving in international peacekeeping missions has been deploying police officers to various areas over the past 16 years.

A total of 74 police officers have been deployed to various areas so far. Currently, 29 police officers are discharging their responsibility in South Sudan, Abyie and Darfur areas.


UNISFA: United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei , Sudan



Demilitarizing and monitoring peace in the disputed Abyei Area

The Security Council, by its resolution 1990 PDF Document of 27 June 2011, responded to the urgent situation in Sudan’s Abyei region by establishing the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). The Security Council was deeply concerned by the violence, escalating tensions and population displacement.

The operation will monitor the flashpoint border between north and south, and is authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei.

UNISFA’s establishment came after the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) reached an agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to demilitarize Abyei and let Ethiopian troops to monitor the area.


AMISOM: Ethiopian Troops formally join AMISOM Peacekeepers in Somalia.



BAIDOA: The AMISOM family received a new member after Ethiopian forces officially joined the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia in January 22 as earlier approved by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2124 which authorized an additional force of over 4000 troops to bring the number of AMISOM peacekeepers in Somalia to over 22,126 strong force.

To symbolize the Ethiopian forces entry into AMISOM, the Force Commander (FC) Lt. General Silas Ntigurirwa pinned AU berets and armbands onto Ethiopian officers who removed their own berets signifying they were now formally AMISOM peacekeepers.

The few Ethiopian forces who were officially inducted into AMISOM included the new Sector 3 commander Brig. General Gebremedhin Fikadu Hailu together with a number of other Ethiopian soldiers who mounted a guard of honor for the AMISOM FC.

This is not the first time for Ethiopia, which borders Somalia on the west, to send its troops into the country, having done so on their own mandate but it is the first time for the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) to official join AMISOM and become the sixth African country to contribute to AMISOM in restoring peace and stability in the Horn of African Country.

A colorful ceremony was held for this special occasion in the city of Baidoa which is the tactical headquarters of sector 3 bringing together Bay, Bakool and Gedo regions where the over 4000 Ethiopian peacekeepers will now be in charge.

The event was attended by a host of leader including Senior AMISOM commanders, Ethiopian ambassador to Somalia Wondimu Asamnenu, the European Union ambassador to Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso, Somalia Deputy Chief of Staff General Abdirisaq Khalif Hussein who was the representative of the Somalia government, local leaders and civil society members led by Bay governor Abdi Adan Hosow.


The AMISOM FC congratulated the ENDF for joining AMISOM and told them they will be required to adhere to the AMISOM Rules of Engagement as well as all other standing procedures as stipulated in the African Union Mission in Somalia mandate. He also sought to remind the rest of AMISOM that the New Year comes with responsibilities to clear Somalia of the Al-Shabaab militant’s menace.

“The deployment of Ethiopia into AMISOM is a follow up of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2124 clearly clarified by the new Concept of Operation (CONOP) which we will implement as soon as possible. As per the new CONOPs, the newly deployed contingent takes over sector 3 and will work and operate under AMISOM Force Commander Instructions and orders,” Force Commander Lt. Gen. Silas said also thanking the outgoing commander Col John Luc Habarugira and all forces for a job well done .

According to the new AMISOM concept of operation, the Ethiopian forces are required to take over sector 3 and help in sector 4 where Djiboutian peacekeepers are in charge. The Burundian peacekeepers who were in Baidoa will move to Jowhar in lower Shabelle region where they will constitute the new sector 5. The Ugandans previously in Baidoa are expected to bolster their compatriots in sector 1 which is responsible for the greater Mogadishu or Banadir region.

The new AMISOM Sector 3 commander from Ethiopia promised the Force Commander and the Somalis of his forces full adherence to all AMISOM standard operating procedures and hopes their entry will bring much more successes to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

“I assure you that Ethiopia’s Defense Force will make a difference in AMISOM operation by clearing Al-Shabaab from sector 3 and 4 under the command of the force headquarters and completely implement AMISOM’s concept of operation in each of its military activities,” Brig. General Gebremedhin Fikadu Hailu, new AMISOM Sector 3 commander reiterated.


Somalian Crisis 2006


Ethiopian troops helped drive the Islamic Courts Union out of Mogadishu in Somalia.

Ethiopia sent troops to southern Somalia to help the UN backed weak transitional government. The TFG, Ethiopia and Puntland fought together against al Shabab and other radical Islamists to take over the capital Mogadishu. After the Islamists split into two groups, moderate Islamists led by Sheikh Ahmed signed a UN backed peace deal with the TFG and established a larger government in Mogadishu. Ethiopian troops withdrew as part of the terms of the peace deal. Government forces have been engaged in battle against Ogaden insurgents led by the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

Dead Ethiopian Soldiers in Somalia

Gabre Heard commanded the forces in Somalia. As of 2014, the Ethiopian troops in Somalia are being integrated into the AMISOM peacekeeping force. According to Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ambassador Dina Mufti, the Ethiopian military’s decision to join AMISOM is intended to render the peacekeeping operation more secure. Analysts also suggested that the move was primarily motivated by financial considerations, with the Ethiopian forces’ operational costs now slated to be under AMISOM’s allowance budget. It is believed that the Ethiopian military’s long experience in Somali territory, its equipment such as helicopters, and the potential for closer coordination will help the allied forces advance their territorial gains.


The Congo Crisis


In 1960, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba requested a UN intervention which adopted Resolution 143. This resolution stated that Belgium should remove its troops and that the UN would provide military assistance to the Congolese forces.

Tekil Brigade

Ethiopia was among the countries that contributed to the UN troops that were sent to the Congo. The troops came from the ‘Tekil Brigade’. The first brigade to come under that name was the pioneer Ethiopian force sent to make arrangements for the main force that would come under the same name.

The second Tekil Brigade was commanded by Colonel Teshome Irgetu and went into the Congo on June 14th, 1961 to replace the previous expeditionary force. The constitution of the battalion was actually 4 different infantry divisions that came one after the other from different parts of the country:

  •    The 8th Tekil Batallion from Maychew, Tigray: commanded by Lt. Colonel Tezera Gorfe
  •   The 25th Tekil Batallion from Jimma/Gojjam: commanded by Lt. Colonel Alemu Weledeyes
  •      The 26th Tekil Batallion from Addis Ababa: commanded by Lt. Colonel Gebremeskel Tesfamichael
  •      The 35th Tekil Batallion from Asmara: commanded by Lt. Colonel Gessesse Retta

Upon its arrival the brigade was quartered at Stanleyville.  Its first job of the day was to establish order, security and confidence amongst the people of the Orientale Province – which it accomplished in a relatively short time. Even when violence broke out, in and around the city on Januray 13th, 1961, the brigade managed to control and calm things down.

The achievements of the Ethiopian troops in the most chaotic of times have been written on the annals of posterity. But to mention a few of their many heroic achievements:

– The 8th Ethiopian Battalion had its headquarters at Stanleyville. The battalion was order to move out to Leopoldville on October 10th, 1961. When things worsened in Katanga, the battalion was ordered to move out to Elizabethville, which it did by December 14th, 1961.

On that very day the battalion was ordered to launch an attack on the enemy. Excerpts from army historians have written:

“ (vi) Immediately upon arrival in Elisabethville the Bn was  ordered to launch an attack on the enemy. In spite of the hasty order and lack of sufficient time to carry out a recce of any sort, the Bn moved from the airport towards the town in tactical battle order returning automatic fire delivered from tree tops, bunkers and civilian residences. Besides the task of clearing various enemy-held localities along the main road from the airport to the town, the Bn was given the major mission of attacking and capturing the strongly-defended enemy locality of the Lido Hotel.

On 15 December 1961 at 0430 hrs (local time) an attack was launched on the Lido by one rifle and one heavy weapons coy of the 8th Bn.2 supported by a few Indian armoured oars. Mission was accomplished by 0600 hrs (local time) and objective was captured.

(vii) The 8th Ethiopian Bn lost seven of its men while fighting in the Elisabethville operation and 9 men were wounded.

(viii) According to received order, the 8th Bn handed over its areas of responsibility in Elisabethville to the 35th Ethiopian Bn and began its move to its former position in Stanley-tills on 20 Jan 61. When the Bn was fully concentrated in Stanleyville, it resumed its previous duties and took over its previous areas of responsibility.”

–  Of the 25th Ethiopian Battalion it was written:

“(i) On replacing the 1st Ethiopian Bn of the 1st Tekil Bde, the 25th Tekil Bn established its HQ at Kabalo. In spite of the confused and all time unsteady aspect of the situation, the 25th Bn carried out its tasks so well that firm co-operation and good understanding between the force and the native Balubas was created. As a result the Balubas never liked the idea of this Bn being transferred to another place in the Congo.

(ii) On 9 December 61, the 25th Bn sent one of its coys to Manono to strengthen the coy from the Indian Independent Me, already there.

The situation at Manono gradually grew worse and finally the force of one bn of Tshombe’s Gendarmerie (which had strengthened its position in the town of Manono and around all the key points) launched an attack on the two coys, which only had four armoured cars for a fire support. The fighting carried on continuously for three days, from 6 to 9 Dec, and the 25th Bn lost one man and three were wounded. Outnumbered by the enemy and after three days of hard fighting, the two coys managed to drive back the enemy from their well-defended areas in Manono to Mitwaba and other nearby areas.

(iii) Due to the uncertainty of the situation at Manono the rest of the 25th Ethiopian Bn was ordered to move to Manono. After handing over the protection of Kabala to the local ANC force, the whole Bn concentrated at Manono on 10 December 61. This Bn is still at Manono making all efforts to establish the peace and order previously achieved in the neighbouring area of Kabalo.”

– Of the 35th Ethiopian Battalion it was said:

“(vii) Acting on an urgent order from HQ ONUC, the 35th Tekil Bn again moved to Elisabethville where fighting had broken out between the UN and Tshombe’s force. On arrival in Elisabethville of only half its force (the rest being airlifted a week later) on 7 Nov. 61, the Bn succeeded in clearing bunker after bunker, which the enemy had taken so much effort to prepare. The old airfied, the police station, Sabena Guest House and the White’s Building, were all objectives which the Bn captured. The final objective captured by the En was the Union Miniére – the well-known Katanga mine centre prized by the enemy more than any other place in Elisabethville. During the Elisabethville operation, the 35th Tekil Bn lost one soldier and two were wounded. The Bn is still in Elisabethville on the active task of ensuring safety of individuals and security in the confusion-struck capital of Katanga.” 



A Friend in Need




A Friend in Need

During the Korean War, many units served alongside the 31st Infantry, but none as respected as the Ethiopian “Kagnew” Battalion. In his book, Pork Chop Hill, S.L.A. Marshall refers to the Ethiopians as the most successful unit of any, despite language barriers and the vast difference of Ethiopia’s arid terrain from Korea’s cold hills. A member of that battalion, Gebre M. Kassa, later became the most revered officer in the Ethiopian Army. I met him in 1976 at the Command and General Staff College and was deeply impressed by his tactical competence and devotion to his profession. He wore a Silver Star, pinned on him near Pork Chop Hill by the 7th Division commander. When Emperor Haile Selassie was overthrown, his successor, Mengistu continued to call Kassa, his former commander, “sir”. Having fought Communism in Korea, Kassa opposed Mengistu’s alliance with the Soviets and declined taking a position in his government. Because Kassa was so widely respected in the Army, Mengistu feared him and had him killed. Kassa’s oldest son was imprisoned and tortured and lives today as a cripple with his mother who supports her family as well as she can on a widow’s pension of $4 a month. I encourage those who served alongside Ethiopia’s “Kagnew Battalion” in Korea to join me in helping the family of a true hero who was as much one of our own. A small donation will go a long way. If you could write a check to Mrs Aselefech Kassa, I’ll get your donation to her.

ETHIOPIAN FORCESEthiopianMedal.JPG (4629 bytes)
Distinguished Military Medal of Haili Salessie the First

Ethiopia furnished three 1,200-man battalions to the UN Command, beginning in June 1951 but only one battalion at a time. The first of these battalions — known as Kagnew (Conquerors) Battalions — arrived in May 1951 and was assigned to the U.S. 7th Infantry Division.

1st Kagnew Battalion Jun 51 — Apr 522nd Kagnew Battalion Apr 52 — Apr 53

3rd Kagnew Battalion Apr 53 — Apr 54

(09/20/99 — A monograph on these units’ activities and casualties, plus unit crests/patches, will be posted when received from the Ethiopian Korean War Veterans Association.)

Casualties                         122 KIA                 566 WIA