The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has paid tribute to the Moroccan and Gabonese peacekeepers who lost their lives on January 18 during an ambush by an armed group.
MINUSCA organized a funeral ceremony in Bangassou, southeastern the Central African Republic, on Tuesday, January 26.
Master Corporal Rachid Lamzaata from Morocco and Staff Sergeant Major Franck Donald Mboundou-Moussounda from Gabon lost their lives after members from two rebel groups, the Anti-Balakas and the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, attacked a MINUSCA convoy 17 kilometers from Bangassou.
“It is a moment of sadness, but it is fitting to honor and celebrate the sacrifice of Staff Sergeant Major Franck Donald Mboundou-Moussounda and Master Corporal Rachid Lamzaata in the service of humanity,” said Lieutenant General Daniel Sidiki Traore, the force commander of MINUSCA.
The January 18 incident brought the number of Moroccan peacekeepers killed in the Central African Republic to 12. In total, more than 130 MINUSCA peacekeepers have lost their lives to the civil war since the establishment of the UN mission in 2014.
Morocco was among the first countries to send peacekeepers to the Central African Republic after the outbreak of a civil war. The North African country is currently the sixth-largest troop contributor to MINUSCA, with over 770 Moroccan peacekeepers deployed.
Since the end of World War II, Morocco has sent over 60,000 troops on 147 UN peacekeeping missions across the world.
Over the years, at least 44 Moroccan peacekeepers have lost their lives on duty. The conflict in the Central African Republic has claimed more Moroccan peacekeeping lives than any other dispute.
The peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), between 2004 and 2017, comes second, with 11 Moroccan fatalities, followed by the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM), between 1992 and 1995, with 10 Moroccan troops killed.