Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Burundi: blue helmets on the way?

Kofi Annan has been charged by the Security Council to begin exploring ways that the UN can make itself more useful in Burundi. Though the SC made no direct reference to taking over the peacekeeping mission in the country, it did leave open the possibility.

The African Union already has 2,656 peacekeepers in the country. They began deploying back in March. They have asked the UN for help.

But where is the UN supposed to get the troops to keep the peace in Burundi? Annan and peackeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno have been begging for more troops to send to hotspots all over Africa. They're already finding it difficult to get the 15,000 troops they need for Liberia. And there's going to be more demand for peackeepers, most likely in Sudan next and possibly in Cote d'Ivoire. By most published accounts, the UN needs about 10,000 more soldiers to fulfill its commitments.
Of the 43,500 troops, military observers and police in the field now, about 30,600 are in Africa alone – in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Western Sahara and on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
And it's not just a matter of getting more "soldiers" ... the UN needs more soldiers from Northern countries.