Politics and Society
The largest and most expensive UN Peacekeeping Missions are in Africa
We take a look at the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa. Many of the missions on the continent are amongst the world’s most expensive and largest forces under the U.N. mandate. With the funding cutbacks by the U.S., many missions have to reduce operational costs and workforce. Is this a wake up call to the African Union to get its act together?
The United Nations Security Council is facing serious funding issues. With U.S President Donald Trump’s threat to cut foreign aid, the United Nations’ peacekeeping missions are going to be severely affected. Some of the world’s largest peacekeeping missions are in Africa.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
DRCongo’s history with UN peacekeepers goes back to the 1960s after the country gained its independence. The volatility of Congo through the years has necessitated the need for the largest peacekeeping force. The force has more than 18,000 troops and police and more than 3,300 civilian staffers. The mission is known by its acronym MONUSCO, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. MONUSCO is the costliest UN peacekeeping mission and recently its five bases were closed. Troops reduced from 19,815 to 16,215. Due to pressure from the U.S., the mission’s budget was reduced from $7.87billion to $7.3 billion.
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After experiencing over two decades of civil war, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. However, Africa’s youngest country hasn’t fully transitioned from war and violence to peace and political stability. It has the second-largest peacekeeping mission in Africa with over 13,000 troops and 2,100 civilian staffers. This year, the South Sudan government rejected an additional 4,000 U.N. troops proposed to be deployed following fighting in Juba, the capital. The budget of the mission currently stands at $1billion.
Central African Republic (CAR)
Fighting in Central African Republic (C.A.R.) has continued despite concerns of a genocide. The U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien recently announced concerns of the possibility of a genocide as fighting between Muslim and Christian militia groups continues. U.N. troops who were seen to be Muslims have been targeted in recent times. The mission has 12,000 troops, a police force and more than 1,000 civilian staffers. Its current budget stands at $920 million and the mission has been on since 2014. It’s of great concern that a large number of U.N. troops stationed in CAR have been accused of sexual abuse.
The mission in Mali is considered the deadliest active U.N. mission. Over 118 members of the mission have been killed since 2013 when the mission begun. With more than 12,000 troops and over 1,300 civilian staffers, the mission has been targeted by Islamic extremist groups. The mission is known as the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations unies pour la stabilisation au Mali, MINUSMA). Many U.N. missions don’t encourage offensive operations, however, this mission is one of the few exceptions.
Other smaller Peacekeeping Missions in Africa
Liberia and Ivory Coast
The U.N. missions in Liberia and Ivory Coast are expected to end next year. The Liberian mission has more than 1,700 people on the ground and a budget of $187 million. The Ivory Coast mission has nearly 800 people on the ground and a budget of $153 million.
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A major challenge of the African Union (A.U.) has been funding. The lack of funds has made the A.U. dependent on the U.N. for peacekeeping forces in volatile areas on the continent. With the cutback of funds by the U.S., the A.U. will find itself in a difficult position. The bloc needs to find a solution to solve funding issues and engage the A.U. peacekeeping forces in conflict zones on the continent.