UN concern about violence against peacekeepers

Some of the course participants interacting.

Some of the course participants interacting.

The United Nations (UN) is concerned about violence against its peacekeepers around the world, saying such acts are on the increase.

According to the Ghana Country Director of the global body, Gita Welch, 62 out of 134 fatalities suffered by peacekeepers last year were due to violent actions.

“This is the highest number of peacekeeping fatalities through violent activities in over two decades,” Ms. Welch disclosed at the opening session of a 10-day workshop on Preventing Terrorism in Peacekeeping Theatres’ Course.

Quoting the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres at the wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the fallen UN peacekeepers, she noted that “unfortunately, the UN flag no longer offers protection to peacekeepers and defining activity of multilateralism is more dangerous for the brave men and women who serve as peace keepers.”

She added that the UN had been looking into the reasons behind the increasing risks; Madam Welch said the global body had launched a campaign to reverse the trend.

The campaign called “Action for Peace” would target measures on improving the performance of missions, flexibility to adapt to the different threat environments, improving training and equipment, and enhancing leadership.

The two areas of the campaign, Madam Welch explained revolves around operational behaviour and mindset and capacity building and readiness of its peacekeepers.

The Deputy Commandant of the KAIPTC, Brigadier General Irvine Nii Ayitey Aryeetey, said the changing nature of conflicts today and the mutating threat of terrorism were increasingly exposing peacekeepers to danger, necessitating the need for a critical rethinking of training contents used for peacekeepers.

In Mali for instance, he said research had identified increasing peacekeeping casualties which were related to weak capacity in search detection of mine and improvised explosive device, limited knowledge about the country context and weak intelligence as some key areas that need significant improvements for peacekeepers.

These together with logistical challenges, he noted had resulted in disastrous consequences on the ground from most African peacekeepers.

“Between 2013 and 2018” he said “the casualties level among African troops has been described as high compared to non-African countries, raising concerns for training institutions and multilateral and bilateral development partners” to act.

He urged the 32 participants drawn from eight West Africa countries to open, observant and ask probing questions as the course have been developed based on empirical research findings from the field and offers a rich context about preventing terrorism in peacekeeping theaters.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI & DAVID TAKYI  

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