African Union peacekeepers, especially those deployed in Somalia, are ill-equipped for the task, an industrialist says.
Paramount Group executive chairman Ivor Ichikowitz says “African peacekeepers are deployed in some of the most dangerous environments, such as Somalia and Darfur. It is unacceptable to commit them to such dangerous and complex missions without full training, logistical support and equipment – which I fear is the current situation. This must change, but that will require a new approach to peacekeeping and security,” he says.
“African nations need to start working together more closely on security policy and pooling their resources. We need to turn peacekeeping into a continental project where states co-ordinate, procure and manufacture equipment locally in order to address regional security threats,” Ichikowitz told an African Security and Advanced Technology Summit in Nairobi this morning, where the Paramount Group is the main sponsor.
“This approach will be more financially manageable and will also foster multilateral co-operation, support local economies and provide greater capacity for independent AU operations,” the entrepreneur added.
“Most importantly, this isn’t a pipedream. Africa already has the technology, the skills and the production capacity to deliver world-class peacekeeping solutions that meet every requirement of modern and professional peacekeeping forces. We don’t need to look outside Africa for this capability, we already have it right here. We have a home-grown solution that is affordable for African states and perfectly aligned to their immediate and long-term needs.”
His comments come as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for greater support for AU troops serving in Somalia and argued that they should receive the same support as UN personnel. During a recent special UN Security Council debate on the war in Somalia African states also raised their complaints about its troops getting poorer treatment than those on mainstream UN missions.
“We support the call by the UN Secretary General for African peacekeeping missions to receive the same level of support as western missions. I urge the global defence industry to support his call.
The time is right to adopt this approach and actively pursue the development of a world-leading peacekeeping competence and all its associated benefits including technology transfer, job creation and skills and economic development.
“If Africa is to enter a new era of peace, stability and development then it must address threats to instability head on. If this doesn’t happen, if we continue to rely on outsiders, then terrorism, uncontrolled migration and civil war will continue to destabilise Africa, undermining the good governance, institution building and economic development that is crucial to our peaceful future. This new approach can break the current impasse in peacekeeping.”