Fifty-five Ghanaian soldiers who were deployed to participate in the United Nations (UN’s) Multinational Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) have been recalled because of safety and security concerns.
The recall of the troops, according to authorities of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), had been necessitated by the safety and security concerns following an attack by some forces in Mali that damaged parts of the aircraft belonging to Ghana.
The MINUSMA GHAV 3 Commander, Group Captain Yaw Cole, handed over the national flag and that of the UN to the Director-General of the International Peace Support Operations (IPSO), Brigadier General Abu Alhassan, to symbolically mark the end of the mission.
The first deployment from the Aviation Unit of the GAF, dubbed GHAV, to support peace mission operations in war-torn Mali was on September 16, 2014.
After the first two contingents, GHAV 1 and 2, ended their operations, GHAV3 was deployed to pitch camp at Gao, a major city in Mali that has been the centre of attack by opposing forces.
The troops carried out air transport services in line with the MUNISMA peace mission requirement.
It also undertook tactical military operations in the area until there was an attack on the aircraft for which reason it was flown back to Ghana for servicing.
Throwing more light on the activities of GHAV 3, Group Captain Cole said: “Before we were withdrawn to Ghana, we were able to carry 15,000 passengers, 330 tonnes of cargo and other services during our operations.
“The situation in Gao is bad so it is not safe to continue to base the aircraft there, and that is why the troops have been recalled. The withdrawal of GHAV 3 is, therefore, because of safety and security reasons, as well as a policy decision,” he said.
In his welcome speech, Brig. Gen. Issahaku eulogised the contingent for holding high the flag of Ghana on the international stage.
He described the mission as a successful one, saying it was an opportunity for the Ghanaian troops to gain more peace-keeping experience and also build their capacity to serve the GAF better.
He urged the troops to put the experience and skills they had gathered while they were on the mission in Mali to improve their professional competence.
The acting Commander of the Air Force Base in Accra, Group Captain Godfred Sackey Parker, also commended the GHAV 3 troops for rising beyond the daunting challenge to give a positive account of themselves and the country.
He said the aircraft, which was attacked at its peacekeeping base in Mali, had been serviced and was now operational.