An indicator of the difficulties faced by peacekeeping missions in Africa comes from UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who told the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Ceremony, 128 men and women died while serving under the UN flag in the 2017 year.
“Last year 61 peacekeepers were killed in attacks – the highest number if 25 years and many more perished in accidents or died from sickness,” he told the medal ceremony at UN headquarters in New York on Friday after returning from Mali.
“Those who died served as military, police and civilian personnel. Collectively and individually they had a profound impact on the communities they served.
“Most were deployed far from home, while others served in their own conflict-affected countries as national staff. Every one of them made our world a better place,” The UN chief said.
He named three UN missions in Africa as having a disproportionate share of fatalities. These were Mali with 42 peacekeepers killed, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (33) and 27 in the Central African Republic (CAR).
“Some peacekeeping countries also bore a disproportionate burden. Tanzania suffered 20 losses, including 13 in a single attack in the DRC last December. Chadian peacekeepers serving in Mali suffered 11 fatalities.”
He told those attending the ceremony the world body was “working hard to make peacekeeping stronger, safer and more effective through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative.
“Coming from Mali, seeing the number of terrorist groups and criminal organisations operating in the territory where our peacekeepers are, it is clear to me we need peacekeepers who are well-trained, well-prepared, well-equipped, well-supported and at the same time with the right mindset to face the challenging environments they will operate in.