Obama wins pledges of 30,000 troops for UN peacekeeping

US President, Barack Obama

US President, Barack Obama

More than 50 countries have offered to contribute some 30,000 new troops and police to the UN’s struggling peacekeeping missions, US President Barack Obama announced Monday.

The pledges represent a major boost to UN blue helmet operations as peacekeeping demands grow worldwide and conflicts become deadlier.

“We know that peace operations are not the solution to every problem,” Obama told a peacekeeping summit organized by the United States on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“But they do remain one of the world’s most important tools to address armed conflict,” he said.

The new contributions include helicopters, engineering units, field hospitals and bomb-detonating expertise that is desperately needed to bolster UN peace missions.

More than 125,000 troops and police from 120 countries serve in the UN’s 16 peacekeeping missions worldwide.

Obama stressed that strengthening peacekeeping would serve “our common security” and pledged to double the number of US officer staff serving under the blue flag.

There are currently 78 Americans serving in UN peace missions.

Washington however continues to be the number one financial contributor, providing 28 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget of $8.3 billion.

The summit opened after a South African peacekeeper was killed in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, highlighting the dangers faced by troops in volatile conflict zones.

Boosting troop contributions will allow the United Nations to deal more effectively with a wave of sexual abuse allegations that have hit its missions, notably in the Central African Republic.

The new commitments will give Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the leeway to remove units whose soldiers face accusations and replace them without weakening a mission.

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