A Celebration of Peace
As African leaders try to silence the guns on the continent and drive development, China’s efforts should be remembered for their sterling contribution towards peace and stability in the continent.
This year’s International Day of the United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers, observed on 29 May, celebrated 75 years of peacekeeping under the theme Peace Begins With Me. “The UN peacekeepers are the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world. For 75 years, they have supported people and communities rocked by conflict and upheaval across the globe,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
The UN has played a significant role in peacekeeping efforts in Africa since the 1960s. Africa has been a major focus of UN peacekeeping operations due to the continent’s complex conflicts and security challenges.
While the latest war in Africa is currently being waged in Sudan, between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces, one of the deadliest and most complex conflicts in recent history has taken place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The DRC civil war has resulted in an immense loss of life and massive displacement. It is challenging to determine the exact figures due to the scale and complexity of the conflict, as well as limited data in certain areas. However, the International Rescue Committee estimated that between 1998 and 2007, the conflict resulted in around 5.4 million deaths. This figure includes both direct killings and casualties due to displacement, disease, and malnutrition. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reported that at the end of 2020, the DRC had the highest number of internally displaced people in Africa, with approximately 5.2 million people displaced within the country due to conflict and other factors. According to the UN Refugee Agency, as of 2020, there were approximately 855,000 Congolese refugees in neighbouring countries.
Despite the official end of the Second Congo War in 2003, violence and instability continue to plague the DRC. Various armed groups still operate in different regions, perpetuating conflict and hindering efforts to achieve lasting peace and development. Efforts by the DRC government, regional actors, and the international community continue to focus on addressing the root causes of the conflict and fostering stability and reconciliation in the country.
On the occasion of the International Day for UN Peacekeepers, it is perhaps fitting to look at China’s contribution to peacekeeping, stability and development in Africa. Statistics show that China has been actively involved in UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and has become the largest contributor of troops among the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council.
China’s People’s Liberation Army has had the highest number of troop deployments under the UN peacekeeping missions. They have participated in operations in countries such as South Sudan, Mali, the DRC, Liberia, and Sudan’s Darfur.
The second-biggest economy in the world is the largest troop contributor among the permanent member states of the UN Security Council. Its troop contribution to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa surpasses that of other permanent member states – the US, Russia, the UK and France.
It does not end here. China has often deployed engineering and medical units as part of its contribution to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. These units are involved in infrastructure development, construction projects, medical assistance, and capacity building.
Interestingly, China’s participation in UN peacekeeping missions in Africa is aligned with its broader foreign policy objectives, emphasising stability, peace, and development. It aims to contribute to conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and capacity development in African countries.
It’s worth noting that specific statistics regarding China’s troop contributions to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa may vary over time and may be subject to change. However, China has consistently demonstrated a commitment to participating in peacekeeping efforts on the African continent. As African leaders try to silence the guns on the continent and drive development, China’s efforts should be remembered for their sterling contribution towards peace and stability in the continent.
The author is editor in chief of African Times News.