UN report backs peacekeeping changes in face of deaths

A South African armored personnel carrier belonging to the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) patrols in the streets of Munzambayi, near Beni, on January 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
0

UN report backs peacekeeping changes in face of deaths

UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN peacekeeping forces need to change the way they operate and not shy away from using force to reverse a worrying trend of escalating fatalities, according to a new report made public Monday.
The recommendations were submitted to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in December by a team of experts headed up by Brazilian lieutenant general Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, a former UN commander in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The United Nations and troop- and police-contributing countries need to adapt to a new reality: the blue helmet and the United Nations flag no longer offer ‘natural’ protection,” the report stated.
“Unfortunately, hostile forces do not understand a language other than force. To deter and repel attacks and to defeat attackers, the United Nations needs to be strong and not fear to use force when necessary,” it recommended.
Casualties have spiked since 2013, with 195 personnel in UN peacekeeping missions killed by acts of violence — more than during any other five-year period in history. Last year saw the highest number of fatalities since 1994, with 56 deaths.
“These numbers go beyond a normal or acceptable level of risk,” the report said. “Something needs to change to reverse the trend.”
As missions face threatened budget cuts from the Trump administration, the report said troops are often too “in a defensive posture” and need to “take the initiative to neutralize and eliminate” threats to their security.
The report recommended that the United Nations start replacing officials, contingents and units that lack capacity to carry out their mandate.
Deficient pre-deployment training is a main cause of fatalities, it said. Among the recommendations were “surprise exercises and tests” to verify troop readiness.
The report also called for missions to be strengthened with sophisticated equipment such as mine-protected vehicles, special weapons and night-vision goggles.
Missions in Africa are the most vulnerable: the UN mission in Mali has lost 91 people since 2013, 29 in the Central African Republic and 26 in Sudan’s war-torn region of Darfur.
The vast majority of the victims were from Africa. Chad and Tanzania have suffered the heaviest losses since 2013, followed by Guinea, Niger and Ethiopia, the report said.


Cape Verde opens investigation after migrant boat sails to Brazil

Updated 23 min 22 sec ago
0

Cape Verde opens investigation after migrant boat sails to Brazil

  • Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Filipe: “There were no Cape Verdeans on board but because the ship began its crossing in Cape Verde we are going to investigate so that other cases do not occur.”
  • There were 25 migrants — all men — on the boat and two Brazilians, reportedly suspected of being people traffickers.

PRAIA: Cape Verde has opened an investigation after 25 African migrants were found off the coast of Brazil after reportedly spending five weeks at sea.
The country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Filipe said the migrant boat started its great journey in the west African archipelago.
“There were no Cape Verdeans on board but because the ship began its crossing in Cape Verde we are going to investigate so that other cases do not occur,” Filipe Tavaras said on TV Wednesday night.
On Saturday, local fishermen found the catamaran, flying the Haitian flag, drifting off the Brazilian coastal town of Sao Jose de Ribamar, south of the Amazon river, the Brazilian navy said.
There were 25 migrants — all men — on the boat and two Brazilians, reportedly suspected of being people traffickers.
The migrants came from Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal on the other side of the Atlantic, the human rights department for Brazil’s state of Maranhao said in a statement.
They had reportedly spent 35 days afloat but there was no immediate indication of what route they had taken.
Brazilian police will investigate possible crimes committed against the migrants and evaluate their legal situation.
Cape Verde, a group of nine inhabited volcanic islands, lies some 500 kilometers (300 miles) off the west African countries of Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
The islands gained independence from Portugal in 1975, after an 11-year liberation war.