Africa needs its own peacekeepers, not ‘mercenaries’
THE international media are once again abuzz with outrageous allegations contained in a confidential UN report, which reportedly accuses Rwanda of backing the rebels in eastern DRC.
The report is solely based on claims of supposed rebel deserters who allegedly spoke to officials of the UN Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), a force that is known more for its scandals – ranging from trading arms for minerals, to rape and sex slavery – than for its peacekeeping mandate.
I want to dwell on the composition of this mission; which incredibly gallops a whopping one billion dollars every year. It defeats any logic to believe that this unpopular force (frustrated Congolese nationals have a habit of storming MONUSCO bases and pelting their officers with stones in protest of their near futile presence) has consumed more than ten billion US dollars over the last ten years.
Congolese civilians have hardly known peace since the force first deployed in 2000, and there is a general sense of “good-for-nothing” attitude towards MONUSCO among the civilian populations in the country’s troubled east.
It should, therefore, not come as a total surprise that the mission would try to look around to hoodwink the world as it frantically seeks to justify its raison d’etre as we have repeatedly seen.
Looking at the composition of MONUSCO, it is easy to notice that the troops on this mission are drawn from far flung nation, with the largest contingents coming from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uruguay and Nepal.
These countries are tens of thousands of miles away from DRC. These countries may be having good armies, but it becomes a whole new experience deploying them in territories that are on the other side of planet Earth. They may serve as military observers if they have to, but not as the core contingents of peacekeeping missions. It is, therefore, not strange that they will do nothing other than doing everything possible to ensure that they justify their fat salaries even if it means trying to find a scapegoat for their own failures.
On the other hand, a closer look at peacekeeping operations on the African continent which are more driven and dominated by Africans reveals a contrasting scenario. These are operations which are commanded and conducted by African troops for the African people. By virtue of that local communities easily resonate with the peacekeepers and the latter do their job with more passion and a sense of responsibility.
For example, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), composed of African forces, have made vital gains over the recent months, with the latest being the capture of a critical corridor linking the Somali capital Mogadishu and the agricultural town of Afgooye on the Shabelle River, from the Al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab.
Much as it is still early to assume that peace has returned to the Horn of African nation, after over 20 years of outright lawlessness, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Somalis could be finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
This mission is succeeding with mainly troops from Uganda and Burundi, who working alongside Somali armed forces are making headway in a country where the most elite contingent of United States armed forces, the Rangers, badly failed and consequently suffered great humiliation.
Elsewhere, the UN-AU hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to which Rwanda and Nigeria are major troop contributors, has had incredible success in pacifying the Darfur region, which just fell short of descending into a fully-fledged genocide. UNAMID peacekeepers have created an enviable reputation of discipline and community service.
The moral basis for my argument is that geographical proximity should always come into play when determining the countries to contribute to troops for peacekeeping missions; they should be in a considerable proximity of the country where the intervention is being made for effectiveness
Contact email: felly.kimenyi[at]gmail.com