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More help sought for UN peacekeepers

by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Sept 23, 2010
The UN Security Council on Thursday demanded extra resources for peacekeepers at a special meeting where ministers said UN troops were unfairly risking their lives.

With some missions facing criticism for their actions, the Council issued a statement calling for "adequate resourcing" and strong military and civilian leadership.

The council also highlighted the new international security threats that peacekeeping missions face, that range from terrorism to proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, multinational organized crime and now piracy.

"We are concerned about the growing gap between multifaceted mission requirements and the resources available to meet them," said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Too often, despite their ambitious mandates, UN missions lack key capacities, from missing helicopters and medic units to insufficient police mentors and crisis response tools," she added.

"Sending out these missions without the resources and support they need undermines their effectiveness and jeopardizes the safety of UN personnel," Clinton added.

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul chaired the meeting and China's Premier Wen Jiabao, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan also attended.

China is the biggest peacekeeping contributor among the five permanent members of the Security Council with 14,000 personnel on missions. Nigeria is a major contributor to African missions.

Wen called on the Security Council to strengthen its mediation and other conflict avoidance capabilities so that fewer peacekeeping missions are needed.

He said particular attention has to be paid to Africa, which has the biggest share of peacekeeping missions in the world -- ranging from Democratic Republic of Congo to Darfur in Sudan.

"To achieve world peace and stability, hotspot issues in Africa must be addressed and security and stability in Africa must be realized," he said.

China has a strategic interest in Africa as it has become a major investor in the region, securing much of the natural resources it needs for its booming economy.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the 122,000 civilian and uniformed personnel in 15 peacekeeping missions around the world in his comments to the meeting.

"Since the end of the Cold War, violent conflict has declined. Success in peacemaking and peacekeeping has played an important role in this development. Yet, we still live in a troubled world with new threats and flashpoints," Ban said.

Some 2,820 UN troops have been killed in peace operations since 1948.

The UN peacekeeping department is a massive operation and a budget of 7.6 billion dollars for 2010-2011.

UN peacekeepers in Democratic Republic of Congo were criticized last month for their slow response to the mass rape of hundreds of women in the east of the country.

Ban said the "shocking" mass rapes had reminded the United Nations of the enormity of its peacekeeping challenge.

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