United Nations (UN) peacekeepers in Africa found themselves in harm’s way is how the world body politely describes the often harrowing task faced by soldiers deployed to make or keep peace in any number of continental hotspots during 2022.
The UN annual peace and security review is topped by the ongoing war in Ukraine and the global ramifications of the Russian invasion. These range from steep increase in prices of food and fuel.
First on the review list for Africa is Mali where “that country’s reputation as the world’s most dangerous posting seemed to be borne out. Nearly every month saw an attack that killed or wounded peacekeepers, amid reports of civilian massacres and a deteriorating security situation”.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the review has it, was “riven” by militant group attacks and inter-communal violence which displaced thousands. Hundreds of civilians were killed throughout the year and a number of peacekeepers again made the ultimate sacrifice. In one attack in July, a UN Mission (MONUSCO) base in the restive North Kivu region was hit during violent demonstrations, killing three peacekeepers.
Sudan began the year embroiled in political unrest following a military coup in 2021. Protestors against the regime continued to be targeted and the UN condemned the excessive use of force, which saw several protesters killed.
“By December, Secretary General Antonio Guterres was able to hail a peace agreement between civilian and military leaders with the UN team in Sudan announcing they would ensure a support package during the transitional period.”
In Ethiopia, which saw fierce fighting centred on the Tigray region, efforts to defuse the conflict led to a ceasefire in March.
This did not end the violence or the resulting humanitarian crisis with a peace deal, finally signed in November, described by the top UN official as a “critical first step” toward ending the brutal two-year civil war.