By Arul Louis,
United Nations : In the aftermath of an Indian peacekeeper being wounded in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), India has warned that forcing troops in UN operations to function without sufficient resources “is setting us all up for a tragedy.”
Citing the conditions under which peacekeepers operate in the DRC, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council on Tuesday: “The strategy of peacekeepers needing to do more with less is setting us all up for a tragedy.”
When “we task the troops deployed to enforce protection of civilians, without even providing enabling air assets for rapid reinforcement operations, it is obvious that the size and scale of UN deployment are insufficient for the tasks entrusted,” he said during a Council debate on Strengthening Peacekeeping Operations in Africa.
Last week a rebel attack in the DRC wounded the Indian police peacekeeper and in separate incidents one Tanzanian and six Malawian troops were killed. So far, 154 peacekeepers have died in UN operations in just the DRC.
Illustrating the magnitude of the problem faced by the peacekeepers, Akbaruddin said that only four UN battalions were responsible for the DRC’s Central sector of 500,000 sq km with more than 11 million people.
“This amounts to one soldier per 158 sq km,” he said.
Addressing the Council, which issues the peacekeeping mandates, he said: “We need to resist the temptation of adding disproportionate mandate components, and aim at prioritisation of mandates. This would help in judicious allocation of meagre resources available for implementing the mandates.”
He also criticised the practice of some troop contributing countries placing restrictions on how their peacekeepers can be deployed in Africa.
The diplomat said the practice should end, and added: “This results in unfair work distribution among various troops on the ground and thereby affect the missions’ performance.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @arulouis)