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Last Updated: Friday, 19 December, 2003, 19:13 GMT
Fears over Africa peace missions

Mark Doyle
BBC World Affairs correspondent

UN peacekeepers in Bunia, DR Congo
DR Congo is one of a number of peacekeeping missions
The United Nations says it is facing a looming crisis in its peacekeeping operations in Africa because of a lack of troops and specialised equipment.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, UN Under Secretary for Peacekeeping, told the BBC there was a shortage of soldiers from the first world armies.

He said the organisation could see difficulties in solving the problem.

About three quarters of the United Nations' 40,000 peacekeepers worldwide are stationed in Africa.

UN MISSIONS IN AFRICA
DR Congo
Liberia
Sierra Leone
Western Sahara
Ethiopia-Eritrea border
Mr Guehenno said that with possible missions ahead in countries like Sudan and Ivory Coast, the organisation could foresee growing difficulties finding enough soldiers and equipment.

He said the UN operation in Liberia, which is supposed to have 15,000 troops and currently has about 6,000, was having problems getting up to strength.

But the general problem, he said, was not just one of numbers.

"The key is very specialised capacities," Mr Guehenno said. "For instance we need attack helicopters in operations that are deployed in unsettled contexts.

"The number of countries in the developing world that have that capacity is limited. so this is typically the kind of capacity I'll be looking for in the months ahead".

He said military officials from rich first world countries often criticised the UN for being disorganised on the ground, and were reluctant to put their soldiers under UN command.

But Mr Guehenno said the impression of UN inefficiency was often precisely because its operations were hampered by a lack of well-equipped troops.

He said the UN operation in Sierra Leone collapsed in 2000 because it was under-resourced.


SEE ALSO:
Healing Sierra Leone's scars
17 Dec 03  |  Africa
Sudan 're-arming Uganda rebels'
26 Aug 03  |  Africa
Quick Guide: United Nations
09 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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