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Hail war, mint money
This is what UN Peace Keeping Forces do now-a-days...
Ever wondered who are the largest contributors of troops to the UN peace keeping missions? Well, the shocking list goes on like this: the largest contributor as on 30th September 2007 is Pakistan with a troop of 10,629 personnel, followed by Bangladesh with 9,728 personnel. Shockingly, the US doesn’t even figure among the top 20 contributors of troops which among others include the likes of Nepal (fourth largest contributor with 3,674 personnel) Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Morocco and even Sri Lanka. While China is a distant 13th, the UK ranks 39th, USA 43rd and Russia 45th with 1811, 365, 307 and 291 personnel respectively. Looking at the list, one is forced to wonder that why on the Earth the permanent members are so reluctant to send troops to UN missions while some of the poorest countries of the world who are also mired in terrible internal crisis are in the forefront in doing so? Well then, keep reading…
The personnel of the UN Peace Keeping Force (UNPKF) are paid in terms of what is called the Mission Subsistence Allowance (MSA) which includes reimbursement for ‘accommodation, food and incidentals’ along with a hardship element in certain cases. For example, in case of UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the MSA rates were $95 per day. In case of UN mission on Kosovo, the MSA rate was about $95 for the first 30 days and $75 beyond that. So the remuneration per personnel comes to about $80 per day for a year. Countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have been consistently contributing roughly about 10,000 soldiers for years. Therefore their earning from UN missions is about $292 million annually which is good enough to fuel many extra budgetary activities in neighbouring countries. For countries like Ethiopia, Senegal and Nepal, this money is perhaps a critical component of the annual state budget. No wonder that wherever UNPKF is present, conflicts never end, as end of conflict would perhaps mean an end to this steady flow of revenue. This is what UN missions have essentially been reduced to, money making machines for the ayesayers. In any case, the UN peace keeping missions now-a-days happen in countries where the developed world is hardly interested in investing its military resources. Consider this, majority of the UN operations are in African countries, which includes, Chad, Darfur, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Congo, Eritria & Ethiopia and western Sahara. In Asia, UN missions are in East Timor, Jammu & Kashmir and the Middle East. How much UN observers are given importance by India, Pakistan & Israel can be gauged from the fact that in both cases, UN observers simply run for cover when wars start, be it Kargil war or Israeli conflict with Lebanon.
Yet does that mean that Security Council members have lost interest in intervening in global affairs? Not really. The US and NATO members now-a-days prefer to use NATO than UN for conflict resolution in their areas of geo-strategic interests. The Coalition troops in Afghanistan are 53,000 while US troops in Iraq is 169,000 compared to the total troop of UNPKF which is about 83,000. Russia too prefers to use its own force for settling business in its own neighbourhood i.e. Central Asia, rather than wasting it on UNPKF. That work and earnings from the same has been kept aside for their poorer brethren. Call it wastage or optimal use of resources.
By:- Pathikrit Payne
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