South Africa accused the UN Security Council of moving faster to end conflicts in regions outside of Africa, as African nations demanded more help for peacekeeping operations.
The Somalia war brought to a head Africa’s complaints at a special UN Security Council debate on peacekeeping that its troops get poorer treatment than those on mainstream UN missions.
The 7,500-strong African Union force propping up the transitional government in Somalia is made up mainly of poorly equipped troops from Uganda and Burundi, who earn less than UN-backed troops, AFP reports.
South Africa’s UN ambassador, Baso Sangqu, told the Security Council African nations had sent peacekeeping troops into conflicts “in cases where the international community, and the Security Council in particular, were unwilling or unable to act.”
Highlighting African missions in Somalia and Darfur, the ambassador said: “In the eyes of ordinary people on the African continent, it would seem that so many innocent people have to die, so much innocent blood shed, before this august body assumes its responsibility to protect and maintain stability on the continent.
“Some have even quipped that the UN Security Council moves with the speed of a cheetah in responding to crises elsewhere and moves with the speed of an elephant to respond to conflicts in Africa.”
With demands growing for the African Union force in Somalia to be more than doubled to 20,000 troops and be brought under the UN banner, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said AU peacekeepers should get the same as those on UN-backed missions.
Sudan is now the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operation and Africa accounts for about 70 percent of the UN Security Council’s peacekeeping and development agenda as well as the lion’s share of its 7.6 billion dollar annual peacekeeping budget.
Nigeria’s Foreign minister Odein Ajumogobia told the Security Council that the “demands placed upon the AU, far outweigh its resources and capacities to effectively respond.”
“The consequences of this mismatch include mission failure, increased instability, retarded economic development and a reluctance among potential partners to contribute to what is perceived to be a failing system.”
The UN secretary general said the Darfur and Somalia conflicts clearly show the “need to find a solution that will provide predictable, sustainable and flexible resources to the African Union when it undertakes peacekeeping operations authorized by this council.”
“AU peacekeeping operations should receive the same support as all UN peacekeepers, including reimbursement,” he said.
A Security Council presidential statement promised to work to find “a more predictable and sustainable solution to these funding challenges.”