The latest available figures on United Nations peacekeeping deployment numbers put South Africa at number six, a long way behind number one Ethiopia, which has more than 6 300 troops currently in field in Africa.
The East African country tops the list of troop contributors from the continent at 6 369, followed by Rwanda (4 213), Nigeria (4 142), Ghana (2 573) and Egypt with 2 561, all ahead of South Africa’s 1 756. The seventh largest African troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations is Senegal with 1 311 with Tanzania coming in at number eight with 1 059.
The country with the largest current overall involvement in UN peacekeeping operations worldwide is Pakistan with 1 228 more troops deployed than Ethiopia’s 6 369 and 5 841 more than South Africa. The south Asian country has a total of 7 597 soldiers wearing blue berets and helmets. Bangladesh (6 921), India (6 736) and Nepal (3 564) are the other major troop contributors from the Asian region with South American country, Uruguay (2 118), next best on the list.
The international body is currently running 15 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission at various levels with half of them in Africa.
They are: MINURSO in Western Sahara, MINUSMA in Mali, MONUSCO (DRC), UNAMID (Darfur), UNISFA (Abyei, Sudan), UNMIL (Liberia), UNMISS (South Sudan) and UNOCI (Cote d’Ivoire).
Other UN peacekeeping operations are in Haiti, Afghanistan, the Golan Heights, Cyprus, Lebanon, Kosovo, India and Pakistan.
In total 77 702 soldiers are deployed worldwide on UN peacekeeping missions and operations with 12 553 police and 1 844 military observers as support.
Cost-wise the UN has approved resources totalling $7.33 billion for the July 2012/June 2013 financial year to be spent on all its peacekeeping operations worldwide. UN member states still have to put $1.83 billion into the world body’s coffers to reach the budgeted figure.
South Africa currently has military personnel deployed for peacekeeping and related tasks in Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in Darfur and aboard a frigate in the Mozambique Channel. A South African National Defence Force (SANDF) contingent will be part of the UN Intervention Brigade in the DRC, which for the first time in UN peacekeeping history, has an offensive mandate to actively stop the M23 rebel group. The Brigade has already started patrolling the DRC and will expand to at least 2 500 troops from South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania.
South Africa’s commitment to peacekeeping and stabilisation in Africa, compared to the other African countries with troops deployed for that purpose, places it 9th out of 24 major contributors (who have deployed a company or more), in terms of the actual number of troops deployed, according to defence analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman. South Africa ranks 22nd out of 24 in terms of the number of troops deployed relative to economic strength,