Canada will join UN efforts in Africa for a ‘long duration’

After a fact-finding mission to the region, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada’s role will go beyond traditional peacekeeping

Minister of National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan delivers a speech at the start of consultation with industry members in Ottawa, Wednesday July 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld


OTTAWA — The federal government will soon announce a plan to bolster United Nations peace efforts in Africa, including trans-border operations, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Monday, as he wrapped up a five-country, fact-finding mission to the continent.

“I do have a number that we will be announcing shortly that we can sustain for a long duration,” Sajjan said during a teleconference from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And while no final decisions have been made yet on numbers, timing or location, Canada’s contribution to a UN mission on the continent will involve more than the military and go beyond what would be considered a traditional peacekeeping role, Sajjan said.

Whatever form the mission takes, it will also operate beyond the borders of individual countries, said the minister.

“We need to look at the area by regions,” Sajjan explained.

“Because the groups we’re dealing with in conflict, war happens in a region,” he said.

“It’s all interconnected. If we ended up looking at problems only within the confines of borders, then we are not going to have a true impact.”

Establishing trans-border peace operations in Africa may prove difficult for the United Nations, which is already having difficulties manoeuvring through the politics of individual nations.

On Friday, the UN Security Council authorized an extra 4,000 troops to curb the latest violence plaguing South Sudan, a move that was almost immediately rejected by government officials there. That opposition was later softened by President Salva Kiir, who said he would consider the plan under certain conditions.

There has been fierce fighting in South Sudan in recent days, raising concerns that the country, which gained its independence in 2011, may slide back into civil war.

Canadian defence and foreign affairs officials have been assessing the possibility of Canada joining UN peacekeeping operations in Mali or the Central African Republic.

A mission in Mali would be fraught with risk. There are roughly 13,000 blue helmets in the country and more than 100 have been killed in ambushes and attacks since the mission was established in April to support a ceasefire between the government in the south and armed groups in the north.

As part of an effort to finalize Canada’s commitment to boost the UN’s numbers in Africa, Sajjan visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda before making his final stop in the Congo. He was accompanied by former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, who is also a former UN high commissioner for human rights, and retired lieutenant-general Romeo Dallaire, who once commanded a UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda.

Defence analysts have questioned whether Canada is stretching itself too thin by contemplating multi-country commitments of military resources to Africa. Canadian Forces personnel are already involved in or preparing for training and other missions in Latvia, Iraq and Ukraine.

But Ottawa won’t task the military with anything that commanders believe they can’t handle, Sajjan said.



Canada will join UN efforts in Africa for a ‘long duration’

  1. Justin goes to War in Africa, endangering lives of Canadian soldiers, just so he can get a Security Council seat (and burnish his credentials for his next job as Secretary General of the UN). Talking about looking for a quagmire to get stuck in. Can someone please save us from this messiah?

    And if South Sudan is a problem. Send George Clooney there. South Sudan was his idea in the first place. Now that it is a mess, he is nowhere to be found.

    • There isn’t a day goes by that you don’t find something to whine about

      And always partisan

      • Could it be that you are not aware that the UN is a dysfunctional organization and that news organizations are reporting that its peacekeepers refused to respond to distress calls from aid workers who were being repeatedly raped and beaten within blocks where the peacekeepers were stationed in South Sudan? Could it be that you don’t realize that the UN is being sued for thousands of deaths from Cholera that its peacekeepers brought to Haiti? You want Canada aligned with this organization? These aren’t the days of Lester Pearson. Of course, you always are in denial. Now that Ralph Goodale has confirmed there really was a bomb in the cab with the inept terrorist, are you still claiming the police shot him for nothing or are you falling in with party line like a good little partisan?

    • Listen, if the idiot must have his own Rwanda, let him have it. There is no such thing as non-engagement unless he wants a s*it show like what just went down in South Sudan where the peacekeepers sat on their fannies and let aid workers get gang raped. He’ll look like a real jacka** if Canadian peacekeepers do the same or they will engage, some will die and some will turn the mission into combat. Either way, it won’t go well. JT is too stupid to understand that one cannot keep peace through non-engagement in a war zone and Sajjan has only been in a war zone. Dallaire must be experiencing PTSD just imagining the possible outcome.

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