Home / Features Up-to-date Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Chinese soldier recalls life in Sudan
Adjust font size:

The first wave of the second group of Chinese peacekeeping forces in Sudan returned to Zhengzhou on September 19 after the successful accomplishment of their mission, assigned by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and its Second War Zone. All of the 155 officers and men come from the Jinan Military Area Command stationed in central China's Henan Province.

The unit was deployed to Sudan on January 16 in order to help keep the peace, and found life in the African nation to be measurably different from the one they left behind in China. In addition to social unrest and a climate that is difficult to manage, there are also a host of unpleasant animals and insects. The country is home to several types of mosquitoes, leading to the prevalence of malaria from bites. Even more dangerous are the snakes and scorpions that lurk in the shrubs around the camp; there are over 20 varieties of vipers, many of which can cause fatality.

What kind of experiences did they have while performing their peacekeeping duties under such hostile conditions? How did they balance work and life in Sudan? What was done for the local people? Fan Yufeng, Vice Director of the Political Department of XX Troop, who took part in the peacekeeping mission, told his story to Zhouzhou Evening News.

People with guns fill the streets

Fan went to Sudan in January as a member of the Chinese peacekeeping forces.

The weather in Sudan was intensely hot and humid, regularly reaching forty to fifty degrees centigrade. Sudan is also severely suffering from poverty and war, seen daily in the remnant shrapnel, and refugee camps filled with people in rags.

Fan described his astonished reaction to the surroundings: "If you look out from car windows when driving, you can easily spot people riding bicycles with guns mounted on the handlebars, shopkeepers at the roadside with guns under their counters, and people chatting with guns on their shoulders." Fan said that there was always danger, particularly in transportation.

Difficulties in successful deliveries

UNMIS and the transportation control department ordered the group to deliver more than 300 containers to Anwil and Rumbek in early April. It was only 245 kilometers from Wau to Rumbek, but the potholed road was treacherous, full of mine fields, bandits, and checkpoints.

More than 20 fully loaded container trucks started out April 16. The officers and men knew what to expect, but they were still surprised by the condition of the road outside of Wau. It was extremely narrow and there were many jungles and swamps. Craters several meters long were often in the middle of the road, some of them more than 1 meter deep.

There was a rough road of 60 kilometers not far from downtown Wau, which made the 20-ton container trucks jolt, and people in the cabs felt sick to their stomachs. What was worse, a 20-kilometer section of road had been washed out by rain; the middle of the road was almost 1 meter higher than the two sides, and the trucks drove tilted at an angle of 20 to 30 degrees. The dust triggered by the trucks brought the range of visibility down to a maximum of 100 meters, forcing the caravan to move forward slowly with emergency lights on.

The truck line had to pass 4 dangerous bridges, one of which had collapsed and was only supported by four gasoline cans full of sand and stones. There were checkpoints at every intersection between two administrative divisions and soldiers watched over them with guns at the ready. Skirmishers could be found everywhere along the roads, often walking around defiantly holding guns. The defending Kenyan troop was quite nervous; they never got off the trucks and guns were always in their hands.

After a trying ordeal, the materials were delivered to Rumbek at 3:40 PM on the 17th, an 8 hours and 40 minutes journey.

Battle with the rats

Soldiers were not always faced with a human enemy. In March, the unit was plagued with rats that chewed through food and clothing. They were often seen in the mess hall, and mousetraps seemed to have no effect on them.

The transportation team invited Doctor Zhu Tao from the medical team to help find a solution.

Thanks to Zh's suggestion, articles in storage were properly sealed and corners were completely cleaned. The warm beds of the rodents were destroyed, holes were filled, poisons were properly distributed, and several kinds of mousetraps were installed in the cooking area. These methods worked well, with more than 70 pests captured or killed.

A surgery with eleven firsts

April 21, 2007 is a day that Fan will never forget, because on that day, the medical team carried out a special cataract ECCE surgery. Although it was not a major surgery, doctor Li Yi experienced eleven "firsts" for his career: carrying out such a surgery in a foreign hospital; working without an operation microscope; operating without electricity; operating using flashlights; operating on a patient as young as 30; working in a room without eye surgery instruments or disinfection materials; working with an African man as an assistant; performing surgery in a room with temperatures over 50 degrees; closing a wound without operating loupes; performing cataract extraction with intraocular lens using the naked eye; and, performing surgery without viscoelastic material.

Despite these disadvantaged conditions, the medical team carried out the surgery based on their experience. After surgery, the patient could see fingers in front of his eyes, although long-term recovery success remains to be seen.

(China.org.cn by Yang Xi and Li Xiaohua, September 25, 2007)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Second Peacekeeping Team for Sudan to Go in Jan.
- China Sends 1st Group of 2nd Peacekeeping Troop to Sudan
- Soldiers Mobilized for the 'Peace Mission 2007'
- PLA Ready for Peace Mission Challenge
- Peace Mission Exercises Get Under Way
- Peacekeepers in Sudan Honored
Most Viewed >>
- Mongolian Finery