Trump’s planned UN cuts to affect NA’s wider deployment

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Mar 30, 2017-

The plan of US President Donald Trump to significantly cut down the funding for the United Nations Peacekeeping operations is likely to affect the Nepal Army’s ambitious plan to double its presence in various war-hit countries across the globe.

The United States, which extends the highest support to the UN both in the regular and peacekeeping expenses, is preparing to cut the peacekeeping budget by $1 billion, nearly half of what it funded last year. 

The US contributes 22 percent of UN’s regular budget and 29 percent of its peacekeeping funds. Last year the administration of Barrack Obama contributed $594 million to the regular budget and $2.3 billion out of the total need of around $8 billion for peacekeeping.

Nepal Army, which is the sixth largest troops contributor to the UN Peacekeeping mission, is working to double its presence from 4,400 at present to make it the fifth largest force deployed under the UN. Security experts claim that the NA’s plan to double its troops in the missions will be a tough task if the plan of the White House on budget cuts gets approval from the US Congress. “The move will affect the entire peacekeeping process of the UN, not just the Nepal Army,” said security expert Geja Sharma Wagle, adding that the move will have both short-and long-term effects in the peacekeeping missions in war-hit countries.

As many as 116 nations are deploying their forces for peacekeeping at present with Nepal trailing only after Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan and Rwanda. NA soldiers are currently serving on 15 different UN missions in Lebanon, Haiti, South Sudan and Congo, among the 16 nations where the UN has deployed multinational armies.

After getting positive signs from the UN and the Nepal government, the national defence force is working to generate resources and train its troops for an increased deployment. The NA needs an estimated Rs7 billion to acquire an adequate number of weapons and mechanised equipment for the engineering squad and even helicopters for an increased numbers of blue helmets.

Army officials, however, claim that the US decision will not affect its plan to double its peacekeeping presence. “The UN will seek alternative sources for the budget,” said Col Ramnath Dhungana, the NA’s assistant spokesperson. The UN provides $1,332 monthly to each soldier deployed on the missions, paying over Rs7.1 billion annually to the NA officials in total. The tenure of a peacekeeper has been extended to one year from six months.

Published: 30-03-2017 09:16

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