Logistics, funding undermining African peacekeeping: Van der Merwe

The tyranny of logistics and finance is foiling African peacekeeping operations Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe told an African Union and United Nations panel yesterday.
Van der Merwe added that in addition to a lack of logistics means and finance, regional peace missions were coming unstuck because of a lack of equipment.   
The government Bua news service adds that the deputy minister believed the impact and importance of regional peacekeeping operations such as those in Somalia and the Darfur region of Sudan was “indisputable”.
The panel, chaired by former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi, was created in terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1809 – sponsored by SA – earlier this year to find funds and ease equipment and logistics difficulties for new UN missions. It also has to find ways to deploy UN troops faster. At present, it on average takes six months to field a UN force.      
“Resolution 1809 again reaffirmed the international community’s belief in the vital contribution of regional organisations to the maintenance of international peace and security,” Van der Merwe said.
“It is in this context that the panel has been mandated to consider in-depth the modalities of how to support peacekeeping operations undertaken by regional organisations, in particular start-up funding, equipment and logistics,” Van der Merwe said.
“Africa has taken its role seriously and deployed operations in Burundi, Darfur, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“In many instances, African operations have been followed by the deployment of UN peacekeeping operations including through the rehatting of African peacekeepers,” said the deputy.
Bua added that the building of capacity for peacekeeping operations within regional organisations has been on the UN agenda for the past decade, and a 2005 World Summit called for the implementation of a ten-year plan for capacity building with the AU.

In 1993 the UN created a trust fund to help Africa finance peacekeeping operations on the continent, but the deputy minister highlighted that the fund proved to be insufficient and unsustainable.

“So rather than a trust fund, providing funding for UN capacity-building efforts and African peacekeeping operations from assessed United Nations contributions would thus seem to be the most reliable option. We therefore hope that the panel will explore this and other options in detail,” Van der Merwe said.

Prodi told the panel that it was never easy to get donor funds and that the crisis on global markets has not made it any easier.
“To have resources for quick fixes is vital for Africa … and our task is to create something that can perform better, and react quicker.
“What is important is the initiative has the support of the, EU and there is also US and Japanese engagement
“But this is not sufficient, because one of the goals of this panel is to try to have stable funding and this must come from China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
“Chinese trade with Africa will overtake Europe’s trade with Africa in about two years or so, and so what is necessary of for all the world protagonists to join the programme [to help build sustainable AU peacekeeping capacity],” Prodi said.