Safety of peacekeepers is critical – KAIPTC

Accra- Ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers constitutes a significant effort in sustaining peacekeeping missions and restoring countries back to the path of peace, stability and development, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), said on Monday.

Brigadier General Irvine Nii-Ayitey Aryeetey, Deputy Commandant, KAIPTC, said international peacekeeping remains a critical framework for managing conflicts and thereby bringing about peace and political stability in post-conflict countries.

He said in this regard, while ensuring that civilians and vulnerable populations were protected in mission theatres, measures to protect and preserve the lives of peacekeepers were equally important.

Brig. Gen. Aryeetey said this at the opening of the “Preventing Terrorism in Peacekeeping Teathres in Africa Course” at the KAIPTC in Accra.

The course, which is being attended by over 30 participants drawn from the West African sub-region, seeks to contribute to enhancing the operational effectiveness of peacekeepers in Africa against terror attacks through research and training, targeting eight countries in the West African sub-region.

After the Accra training, two more similar courses would be held in Nigeria and Mali in November 2018 and January 2019 respectively.

It is being organised by the KAIPTC in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Japanese Government.

He said the changing nature of conflicts today, and the mutating threat of terrorism was increasingly exposing peacekeepers to danger, necessitating the need for a critical rethinking of training content used for peacekeepers.

He said in Mali for instance, their research identified increasing peacekeepers casualties, which was related to weak capacity in search and detection of mines and improvised explosive device (IEDs).

It also hinges on limited knowledge about the country context, and weak intelligence gathering as some key areas that need significant improvement for peacekeepers.

“These, together with logistical challenges has resulted in disastrous consequences on the ground for most African peacekeepers.

Between 2013 and 2018, the casualty level among African troops have been described as high compared to non-African countries, raising concerns for training institutions such as KAIPTC, multilateral and bilateral development partners such as the UNDP and Japan,” he said.

Mr Yasunori Nakamura, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan, said peace and stability in Africa was one of the important factors for development of the continent.

He said peace and security were closely related to human security, lives and standards living of the people of Africa, which Japan had been working on for a few decades.

“Japan sees Africa as a partner to achieve important international agenda including peace and stability in Africa and the world,” he stated.

Madam Gita Welch, UNDP Country Director in Ghana, said UN peacekeeping was a unique global partnership between contributors of civilians and uniformed service in military, police, prison and immigration authorities, host governments and the UN in a combined effort to maintain international peace and security.

“Our peacekeepers make immense sacrifices serving in some of the toughest and most dangerous places in the world, going where most cannot or will not.

They have saved and improved the lives for millions of people. Protected countless civilian populations, helped prevent conflict, reduced violence and strength security in the field where it matters most,” she said.

Madam Welch said in 2017, 62 of the 134 fatalities of UN peacekeepers were due to violent actions – nearly half.

She explained that this was the highest number of peacekeepers fatalities through violent actions in over two decades.

She said others lost their lives in transportation accidents or illness while serving in the cause of peace far from home.

Source: Ghana News Agency