Factbox: Key facts on peacekeeping in Africa

Report
from Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
Published on 18 Jan 2006
Jan 18 (Reuters) - African countries have been asked to contribute troops to a peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Uganda has said it will do so if parliament approves the move, South African President Thabo Mbeki and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete have said they would consider sending troops, and Mozambique said it was training soldiers for possible deployment to the turbulent Horn of African nation.

Here are some details on peacekeeping in Africa.

PENDING MISSIONS:

SOMALIA:

African and Western diplomats are trying to rally a peacekeeping force to restore calm in Somalia after a war in December that pitted Ethiopian and government forces against Islamists who had captured much of the south of the country. Ethiopia wants to withdraw its soldiers in the coming weeks.

The African Union and East African body IGAD say they are willing in principle to send more than 8,000 peacekeepers into Somalia, provided funding is made available and member nations supply soldiers and equipment.

SUDAN, DARFUR:

In August 2006, the U.N Security Council adopted a resolution on deploying a 22,500-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur to replace and absorb African Union forces who have been unable to stem the violence in western Sudan. It invited the consent of Sudan, which has refused so far to allow the U.N. to take over peacekeeping duties in Darfur. Then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested a hybrid force, which Khartoum also rejected. But Sudan has agreed to allow a "hybrid operation", involving technical U.N. support personnel, to deploy to Darfur to help the AU.

Experts have estimated 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes in the region since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in 2003.

ONGOING MISSIONS:

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: (MONUC) (From 1999)

The U.N. has its largest peacekeeping force in the world, with 18,473 uniformed personnel, deployed in Congo to safeguard elections and help a national army being put together from former warring rebel and militia groups. Ninety-eight peacekeepers have been killed since the mission started in 1999. War broke out months earlier when rebels, backed by Uganda and Rwanda, sought to overthrow the late President Laurent Kabila. The war ultimately involved six African countries. An estimated 4 million people died, mostly from the resulting humanitarian disaster.

Congo held its first free elections in more than 40 years last year, which were won by incumbent President Joseph Kabila.

LIBERIA: (UNMIL) (From 2003)

The United Nations Mission in Liberia, which currently numbers 15,638 troops, was established by the U.N. Security Council in September 2003 to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement following Liberia's bloody 1989-2003 civil war, which killed an estimated 250,000 people.

Former President Charles Taylor, who was blamed for violence around the region, faces war crimes charges at a special U.N.-backed court in The Hague. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated president in January 2006.

SUDAN, SOUTH: (UNIMIS) (From 2005)

The U.N. Security Council authorised a 10,000-strong peacekeeping force for southern Sudan in March 2005 to monitor a crucial agreement signed between the Khartoum government and southern rebels that ended a 21-year civil war that killed 2 million people and forced 4 million from their homes.

A U.N. report released late last year suggested the pact in southern Sudan could be crumbling, as key pledges by donors and signatories are ignored or circumvented. The U.N. force has come under criticism over allegations of sexual abuse of children by U.N. peacekeepers.

WESTERN SAHARA: (MINURSO) (From 1991)

Morocco seized Western Sahara after it gained independence from Spain in 1975 and waged a low-intensity guerrilla war with the Polisario Front until the U.N. brokered a ceasefire in 1991 and sent in just over 200 peacekeepers. The U.N.-mediated cease-fire came with the promise of a referendum on Western Sahara, but Morocco has refused to allow a vote on self-determination.

ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA: (UNMEE) (From 2000)

The Eritrea and Ethiopia peacekeeping mission, which currently includes 2,285 personnel, polices the peace pact that ended a 1998-2000 border war which killed an estimated 70,000 people.

Ethiopia rejected an independent ruling on where the border should be and demanded further talks, since the decision favoured Eritrea. That prompted Eritrea in October 2005 to restrict peacekeepers' movements and ban its helicopter flights.

IVORY COAST: (UNOCI) (From 1999)

Around 11,000 U.N. and French peacekeepers (9,000 are from U.N.) monitor the buffer zone stretching across the middle of the world's top cocoa growing nation after a 2002-2003 civil war split it into a government-run south and rebel-held north.

Despite a string of U.N.-backed peace deals, Ivory Coast made little progress toward holding elections as the government and rebels bicker over their implementation.

In January, the Security Council extended the peacekeepers' mandate for six more months and authorized U.N. troops to help with preparations for long-stalled elections.

Sources: Reuters/United Nations

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