A female German soldier in Darfur
Lieutenant Josephin-Marie G. is a member of a UN mission.
Lieutenant Josephin-Marie G. works in El Fasher, North Darfur, where she has been deployed with the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) along with seven other Germans for UNAMID (United Nations African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur). As part of a team of four people, she organizes the transport of material for the operation, which involves nearly 15,000 soldiers, police and civilians.
What made you decide to take part in a UN mission?
I volunteered. During my course in international relations at the Bundeswehr University in Hamburg, I took a close interest in peace-keeping missions. I feel I'm broadening my horizon by getting to know the UN in practice.
Sudan is a Muslim country. Did that raise any questions for you before you joined the operation?
Of course, I thought it over beforehand. Once I arrived, I was very pleasantly surprised. I don't wear a headscarf and I offer to shake men's hands.
The men have to get used to working with me.
What does your presence tend to generate more – respect or rejection?
Neither. Curiosity mostly – a European woman in uniform. When I drive out of the camp, I'm followed by curious looks, especially from the children.
As a woman, are you also something special within the mission?
Women are in the minority in the mission and we have to deal with many mentalities here. It does sometimes happen that a man would prefer to go to a male colleague when he realizes that there is a woman behind the name. I then carry on as usual. The men have to get used to working with me.
One of UNAMID's aims is to protect the civilian population. Is it working?
I can't presume to make an overall judgement. But we do our part in the field of transport as smoothly as possible despite adverse circumstances – the infrastructure leaves much to be desired. Most of the time we manage it.
The UN Blue Helmets make an important contribution to world peace.
What's life like in El Fasher?
I don't see much of the city, since I only leave the camp when my job requires it. There isn't much to do here. But the atmosphere is good.
What has moved you the most so far?
Seeing starving children and great poverty.
You'll be returning to Germany in February. Can you imagine being part of a UN mission again?
Definitely. The UN Blue Helmets make an important contribution to world peace.
Interviewer: Friederike Bauer