With demand for United Nations peacekeeping outpacing the supply of forces, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today issued an impassioned plea to the National Forum on Europe meeting in Ireland for the continent's countries to lend their troops, civilian workers and expertise to the world body's operations.
"The EU [European Union] is in a position to provide specialized skills that our largest troop contributors may not be able to give us, and to deploy more rapidly than we can," said Mr. Annan, who noted that less than one-tenth of all UN peacekeepers come from EU countries, while in Africa, that proportion drops to one in 20.
The Secretary-General credited the French-led Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with saving lives and called it "a model of EU cooperation with the UN."
He reminded the audience of the surging requirements for UN peacekeeping. "In the last nine months, with five new operations either deployed or on the drawing board, the demand on our peacekeeping has jumped by about 50 per cent," he said. "We have around 56,000 troops and military observers deployed today, but we desperately need another 30,000 of them - not to mention many more civilian personnel, both police and others."
Mr. Annan especially underscored the gravity of the situation in Darfur, Sudan, where fighting between Government and rebel forces has uprooted more than 1.45 million from their homes and forced another 200,000 to flee to neighbouring Chad. "The humanitarian effort needs more money, and the African Union (AU) needs concrete support - including logistics, equipment and financing, as well as political pressure on the parties," he said. "Every country and organization that can help must do so, now."
The Secretary-General praised Ireland's contribution to peacekeeping, and called on other European nations to follow that lead.
Tomorrow Mr. Annan is scheduled to visit an Irish military base for a demonstration on peacekeeping involving a live videolink with the commander of Irish forces in Liberia.