The Secretary-General António Guterres has extended his condolences to Lt. Gen. Erskine’s family and to the Government of Ghana for their loss.
UN Secretary-General in a statement on the passing of General Erskine of Ghana – the first commander of UN forces in Lebanon described his death as sad. According to him, “The UN is saddened at the passing of Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Erskine, of Ghana, at the age of 86.
Lt. Gen. Erskine served as UNIFIL’s first Force Commander from 1978 to 1981, a particularly difficult time for South Lebanon.
He led the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the initial implementation of Security Council Resolution 425 (1978).
Lt. Gen. Erskine worked in very challenging circumstances, during ongoing conflict, to restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its authority in the country’s south.
Lieutenant General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine (19 January 1937 – 7 May 2021) was a Ghanaian soldier and politician. He was a Chief of Army Staff of the Ghana Army. He was also a commander of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Erskine trained in various military institutions in the United Kingdom. He had telecommunications training at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in England, completing in 1960. He was also at the Staff College, Camberley in 1968. He also trained at the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1968 and 1972.
Erskine was commissioned at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, in December 1960 into the Signal Corps of the Ghana Army. Erskine served in various capacities with the Ghana Army.
He was Commanding Officer of the Ghana Signals Regiment and later Director of Communications with the Ghana Ministry of Defence. He later became Director for Operations and Planning at the same Ministry from 1971 to 1972. He was the Chief of Army Staff between January and February 1972. He again held the same position from February 1973 to April 1974.
Erskine served as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Emergency Force Two (UNEF 2) from 1974 to 1976 in Egypt. He was then appointed the Chief of Staff of UNTSO in Israel between January 1976 and April 1978.
He subsequently became the first commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) between 1978 and 1981. Erskine again occupied the position of Chief of Staff of UNTSO and was also the United Nations Secretary General’s Representative for Matters relating to UN Peacekeeping Operations in the Middle East from February 1981 to May 1986.
Lt. Gen. Erskine was one of the founding members of the People’s Heritage Party (PHP).
Lieutenant General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine passed on 7 May 2021.
He was survived by a wife and eight children. He was 86 years.
Story by Edzorna Francis Mensah