Unless the rules of engagement are changed to help prevent the deaths of peacekeeping soldiers, Nigeria will keep its soldiers away from United Nations Peacekeeping missions, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has warned.
Speaking in an international seminar on peacekeeping, coordinated by the Nigerian Ministry of Defense, the President called on the United Nations Organization to evaluate its rules of engagement and save Nigeria the burden of losing its highly trained military personnel.
President Jonathan said militia groups ambushing and killing troops was “totally unacceptable.”
“I wouldn’t want to lose one soldier carelessly, and for that reason, the UN also needs to change rules of engagement if Nigeria’s soldiers must be involved in peace operations,” President Jonathan was quoted as saying.
Following the death of over 2, 000 Nigerian soldiers in peace-keeping operations worldwide, President Jonathan on Monday ordered his Chief of Defense Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike and other service chiefs to ensure that no Nigerian troop is lost to militias in theater of operation due to the present inadequate rules of engagement.
Nigerian soldiers have outstandingly participated in peace operations in countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan; fending off militias who are often armed by groups or individuals from industrialized nations.
Over the past decade, various forms of conflicts have erupted in Africa as well as across the globe; war crimes and crimes against humanity have been easily committed by warlords and rebels and the United Nations Security Council is yet to determine the best way to reduce civilian casualties in the conflict zones while securing its peacekeepers.
“In Africa, one of the greatest problems is the dumping of small arms and light weapons by the industrialized countries. This encourages a lot of criminal activities, the militia groups and all kind of conflicts,” he added.
President Jonathan no longer believes that his soldiers should deal with militias, under flawed mandates. However, he did not state what new rules of engagement he wants to see implemented by the UN.
As a member of the UN Security Council, Nigeria has more than 6,000 Nigerian troops serving under United Nations mandates worldwide. In 2007, Nigeria lost seven soldiers in an ambush during peace operations in Sudan.
Some analysts have argued that the soldiers that constitute the peace missions should be able to defend themselves and the civilians they are there to protect. They should be able to respond to efforts by rebels and warlords to undermine peace agreements, or attack civilians.