UN’s Ban asked to study Africa peacekeeping funding

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The Security Council asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday to detail ways the United Nations could fund Africa to run peacekeeping forces on a continent in ever greater need of such missions.
The African Union dispatched peacekeeping missions to both Sudan’s Darfur region and Somalia. Reuters says the former was ineffectual until it was merged with a U.N. operation last year while the latter has done little to halt the turmoil in Somalia and remains at less than half its planned strength of 8000.
In both cases the main problem was lack of money, which particularly affected the equipment the forces were provided with, said a recent report by a team appointed by Ban and headed by former Italian prime minister Romano Prodi.
Nevertheless, there has been political pressure from Africa and elsewhere for the continent to mount its own peacekeeping forces. Sudan, for example, insisted that the bulk of the peacekeepers sent to Darfur be African.
The report proposed two ways of tackling the problem — direct U.N. funding to cover missions for up to six months and creation of a trust fund, based on voluntary donations, to deal with longer-term needs.
“If the African Union is to play its full part, it must have means to support future short-term operational deployments, and the capacity to develop the essential capabilities necessary for the long term,” Prodi told a Security Council forum.
A council statement asked Ban to report by September 18 on “practical ways to provide effective support” for U.N.-authorized AU missions, including a “detailed assessment” of the recommendations by Prodi’s six-person panel.
Although speakers hailed the panel’s report, some diplomats said it had not produced the detailed analysis that had been hoped for and the problem was now being handed back to Ban.
One senior Western envoy said direct U.N. funding would not solve the problem because the world body’s peacekeeping budget was already under strain.
The United Nations already has a 17 000-strong force in the Democratic Republic of Congo — its biggest in the world — and plans to boost it to 20 000.
The Darfur force will ultimately have 26 000 troops and police and there have been calls from Africa for a U.N. force to replace the AU troops in Somalia.