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UN considering Indian demands in peace keeping operations

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United Nations, Jan 1: UN Security Council called for regular and more expansive consultations after admitting to its flawed consultation process with countries contributing troops to peacekeeping operations. This demand consistently pushed by India throughout last year and finally coming into implementation cap the tenure of Asoke Kumar Mukerji, who is retiring as India’s Permanent Representative. He had waged a constant battle to get the Council to properly consult with troop-contributing countries as it issues and monitors peacekeeping mandates.

The Council recognized that the consultation process involving it, the troop contributors and the UN Secretariat “do not meet their expectations and have yet to reach their full potential,” US Permanent Representative Samantha Power, the Council President for December, said in a statement released Thursday.

“The Security Council stresses the importance of substantive, representative and meaningful exchanges and underscores the importance of full participation by the three stakeholders so that meetings are useful and productive,” Power said.

In June in one of several speeches at UN debates, on peacekeeping, Mukerji had criticized the Council saying it was “enforcing the will of a small privileged minority within the Council to look at peacekeepers as instruments to wage war.” He cited its disregard of the UN Charter requirement for nations contributing troops “to participate in the decisions” of the Council on their deployment.

“India, for example, has not been so consulted,” he said. “This despite the fact that India is the single largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping operations, having contributed more than 170,000 troops in 43 of the 69 peacekeeping operations mandated so far by the Council.” India currently has 7,798 personnel serving the peacekeeping operations.

In her statement released Thursday, Power called for extending the scope of the interactions between the Council, the Secretariat and the troop-contributors. “These consultations must extend beyond the issue of mandates of operations, and to areas such as safety and security of peacekeepers, strategic force generation, gender, conduct and discipline, including allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, implementation of protection of civilian mandates, capability, performance, equipment and national caveat,” she said.

The US role in shepherding the commitment through the Council in the waning days of 2015 during Power’s presidency adds to its weight. President Barack Obama’s international summit on the subject in September further showed interest in rejuvenating UN peacekeeping operations.

The Council also recognized the troop-contributing countries’ on-the-ground expertise. Power said, “The experience and expertise of troop- and police-contributing countries in theatres of operation can greatly assist the planning of operations.”

India has stressed the importance of continuing consultations to make use of the reservoir of experiences peacekeepers have. During a recent interview with IANS, Mukerji gave an example of the situation in South Sudan where Indian peacekeepers are deployed. Rights to graze cattle sparked conflicts between groups and these escalated, he said. While the Indian troops on the ground, who had been trained professionally to observe the conflict environment, were aware of it, the information had no avenue to reach the Council or the higher UN echelons, thus missing an opportunity to prevent the situation from escalating, he added.

Power said the Council also asked the Secretariat to consult with troop-and police-contributing countries when planning any change in military tasks, mission-specific rules of engagement, concept of operations or command and control structure or early peace building that would impact personnel, equipment, training and logistics.

This meets another of the peacekeeping issue that India has raised about the Council changing mandates midway through a mission or introducing new elements that could affect the security of peacekeepers. The Council added a so-called intervention brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Indian peacekeepers are deployed. India fears that its troops could become vulnerable to attacks stemming from the aggressive tactics mandated for the intervention brigades.

(IANS)

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As Refugees Flee DR Congo, UN Steps Up to Reduce The Risk of Ebola

The UNHCR says refugees are at the same risk of contracting and transmitting the Ebola virus disease as local farmers, merchants, business people and others moving through the area.

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A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a man before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

The U.N. refugee agency reports it is stepping up efforts to reduce the risk of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus as refugees flee DR Congo. Latest estimates put the number of confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in eastern DRC at 49, including 38 deaths.

The U.N. refugee agency is working closely with DRC authorities and other agencies on actions to contain Ebola on the national and regional level. But, its main focus is to monitor possible Ebola infections among refugees fleeing across the border, mainly to Uganda, from conflict ridden North Kivu and Ituri.

UNHCR spokesman, William Spindler says the number of newly arriving refugees into Uganda from these two Ebola affected provinces increased during July from 170 a day to 250 a day. He says the majority currently is crossing at the Kisoro border point.

A family sits outside in a neighborhood where three people died of Ebola last month, in Mbandaka, Congo, June 1, 2018. For the first time since the Ebola virus was identified more than 40 years ago, a vaccine has been dispatched to front line health workers.
A family sits outside in a neighborhood where three people died of Ebola last month, in Mbandaka, Congo,
VOA

“So UNHCR is working with WHO, UNICEF and other partners and with the Ministry of Health of Uganda to intensify screening for Ebola at all border entry points. And, additional health workers have been deployed in the border districts to improve response capacity,” he said.

Spindler notes the World Health Organization is not recommending any restriction on the movement of people. Therefore, he says UNHCR is urging countries neighboring DRC to allow refugees in need of protection to enter their territory and to include them into preparedness and response plans and activities.

Also Read: United Nations Security Council to Closse 13-year-old Haiti Peacekeeping Mission in October

The UNHCR says refugees are at the same risk of contracting and transmitting the Ebola virus disease as local farmers, merchants, business people and others moving through the area. Therefore, it urges governments and local communities not to adopt measures that single out refugees. Those measures may not be scientifically sound and will only serve to stigmatize and restrict refugees’ freedom of movement. (VOA)