Peacekeepers are ready for deployment

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

UN rapid deployment peacekeeping force to be ready by yearend….reports Arul Louis from UN HQ in New York 

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The UN’s rapid deployment force of 15,000 peacekeepers who can be rushed to trouble spots is expected to be ready by the end of the year, according to Harve Ladsous, the Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations.

To be called the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS), the troops would have gone through all the pre-deployment training and vetting and have their equipment prepared for mobilisation and be on stand-by to be sent to the field as soon as a political decision is made to deploy them, Ladsous told reporters here Thursday.

The PCRS “should shorten the actual deployment time to hopefully 30 or 60 days that would be a vast improvement on what existed,” he said. “We will be in a position to effectively deploy either a medium-sized mission or handle a surge in existing mission,” he added.

The UN has faced criticism for delays in deploying peacekeepers, especially with the UN making the protection of civilians a priority.

China is gearing to take on a major role in this programme and has pledged to provide 8,000 troops-more than half the number-required for it. Along with the 3,000 Chinese peacekeepers currently deployed, this number could make Beijing the largest UN troop contributor.

Ladsous said that he will be going to China next month to follow up on the offer of the rapid deployment troops made by President Xi Jinping at last year’s UN summit. Ladsous called it “quite remarkable” and said he gave it “all the more importance” because the UN has seen the deployment of Chinese combat troops on the ground in South Sudan.

China’s full-fledged participation in the peacekeeping operations is relatively new. Only in 2014 it began deploying large numbers of infantry. Till then its participation was limited to support roles like engineering and medical.

Permanent members of the Security Council, who decide on sending peacekeepers, are reluctant to commit their own troops to UN operations, but China has broken ranks with them to send a significant number of peacekeepers in a bid to assume major role. Russia and the United States have only 80 peacekeepers each, Britain 200 and France 934.

Currently, Bangladesh is the largest troop contributor to the UN with 8,495 of its personnel under the UN flag. Ethiopia comes next with 8,296, followed by India with 7,798 and Pakistan with 7,643.

Ladsous said that the UN had received pledges of 50,000 people for peacekeeping operations at the summit last year “and we are working full steam to translate these pledges into actual operational possibilities of deployment.”

Last year 129 peacekeepers died while serving the UN and so far this the toll is 38, with six Chadians killed in Mali Wednesday.

Atul Khare, the Under Secretary General for Field Operations, said one of the priorities for the UN is to ensure the protection of peacekeepers in the face of the growing threats they were facing.

He said the reports of sex abuse by UN had made him feel ashamed that some people had turned from peacekeepers to predators. There would be no tolerance for such behaviour and troop contributors are being asked to take immediate action action against the offenders.

The UN was creating a safe environment for victims to come forward to complain against peacekeepers and a trust fund has been set up to compensate them, Khare said.

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