Peacekeeper Profile: Peter Urbanovský
Peter Urbanovský from Slovakia joined his country’s armed forces in 2000 and is currently serving with the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) as Force Engineer Warrant Officer. This is Peter’s second stint with UNFICYP in the same position. He was previously deployed in the Mission from 2012- 2014. Here, Peter tells us about the challenges in peacekeeping as well as why, in his opinion, it remains one of the most worthwhile endeavors he has undertaken.
Q: Tell us a bit about your work with UNFICYP.
As Force Engineer Warrant Officer, I work collaboratively with my colleagues to supervise and plan all tasks undertaken by UNFICYP’s Engineering platoon. In addition to this, I ensure that there is a constant flow of information to senior Mission management regarding specific projects and also that the platoon receives the logistical support it requires. My profile also includes a fair amount of day-to-day problem-solving.
Q: What, do you feel, are some of your biggest achievements in your career with UN peacekeeping?
I think for me the biggest achievement is when we, as the Mission’s engineers, work collectively as a team to successfully complete projects that improve the capability of UNFICYP’s field units, thereby enabling them to achieve mandated tasks. Team spirit, in my view, forms the essence of UN peacekeeping.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about the challenges faced and sacrifices made by peacekeepers across the globe?
One of the first challenges any peacekeeper faces is a new, international environment, completely different to what he or she may be used to. Specifically for us in engineering, weather constitutes a major challenge—in summers we often do manual labour in temperatures that exceed 40 degrees Celsius. Similarly, in winter, we combat heavy rainfall and thunderstorms that can hinder progress in repair tasks geared to smooth the way for troops that undertake frequent patrols. I am sure other missions operate in far harsher conditions. Staying away from our families is one of the sacrifices peacekeepers make as well.
Q: Would you encourage more people to join peacekeeping operations worldwide? If yes, why?
My answer is an unequivocal yes. If you want to work in a multinational environment and are not afraid of difficult working conditions at times, peacekeeping is definitely a career option to explore. Contributing to the cause of peace in this turbulent world requires commitment but remains one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.