UNITED NATIONS — Most of the 65,000 peacekeepers in 17 African nations, under the UN flag, are being deployed in complex conflicts or trying to stop those often brought about by regional and ethnic tensions, warned UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a report Thursday.
“Maintaining the safety and security of more than 65,000 civilians must be prioritized” more than other needs, said the report by the UN chief. “They are in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Congo, Darfur, Darfur, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan, and Sudan.”
There are around 50,000 UN peacekeepers now deployed in 30 of those countries.
The UN often had deployed a much smaller number of blue-helmeted troops in those countries, but in the last few years, it has stepped up its involvement because of more insecurity on the ground, added frequent requests from UN members and also as former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan tried to find a way to better involve the world body in the fight against terrorist groups, which threaten the UN mission in Iraq and UN troops in Somalia.
Ban’s latest report said the UN is facing an “understandable dilemma,” since the international “community has mobilized almost 100,000 troops and police” to fight the deadly terrorist groups in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, which seek to topple the UN or threaten the West.
“However, there is the limit of how much can the UN be expected to do in a globalized world when there are so many more pressing conflicts,” said UN officials, adding they want to work better with the global community to find solutions for these conflicts.
The real targets for terrorist groups are often the local communities, as Iraq, Syria and Somalia show. In Darfur, Libya, North Kivu, Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan, the Somali and Nigeria, the efforts of UN peacekeepers can often do little to resolve the issues and problems.
“UN peacekeepers may be effective at preventing violence, but unless these violent conflicts are resolved, they are likely to recur over time,” the report noted.
Ban’s report called for a more coherent UN response to address these complex problems.
In Central African Republic, for example, UN troops have helped put an end to sectarian violence in two cities but the ongoing civil war and impunity are making it difficult to halt violence elsewhere in the country. Ban’s report said it was time to find a way to resolve the underlying causes of violence, especially in the Muslim areas in the northern part of the country.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN peacekeepers are being deployed to end ethnically based armed clashes in eastern and central Congo. But they have not been able to stop the fighting between rebel groups that has torn the country apart, and there is no sustainable solution in sight.
In Mali, UN troops need to get more cooperation from the Malian military. The UN is in “grave danger” from the growing threat of terrorism by groups allegedly linked to al-Qaida and other international terrorist groups, said the report.
Both the Djibouti and Somalia missions face large threats from various armed groups.