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Top UN Peacekeeping Official Heads To China

Top UN peacekeeping official heads to China to push for greater contribution

The United Nations peacekeeping chief is heading to China for a regional seminar and meetings with Government officials to encourage the world's most populous country to contribute more to UN operations.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters in New York today that China's level of involvement in UN missions has surged dramatically in the past five years. The Asian nation is now the thirteenth largest contributor of uniformed personnel.

But he said that China, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, can increase its contribution even more, particularly in the areas of so-called "force enablers," where it has already provided medical and engineering units.

Mr. Guéhenno said he hoped to see a Chinese infantry battalion one day and air transport units as well.

"We have lots of capacities in short supply" and China, like the other permanent Council members, has a status that would bring greater authority to the blue helmets if it expanded its contribution, he said.

After arriving in Beijing on Sunday night, the Under-Secretary-General is scheduled to attend a peacekeeping seminar involving China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and he is also due to hold talks with officials from the Chinese Government's foreign affairs, defence and interior ministries.

The UN and the African Union are about to deploy a hybrid peacekeeping force (known as UNAMID) to Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, but Mr. Guéhenno noted earlier this week that the Sudanese Government was yet to signal its approval of the presence of several non-African units in the operation.

Asked today whether he would raise the issue during his talks with the Chinese Government, Mr. Guéhenno said he thought it was "important that all members of the [Security] Council impress upon Sudan" that UNAMID is being deployed to help the people of Darfur.

He stressed that it was vital that UNAMID have all the units it needs to be able to implement a robust mandate in Darfur, where fighting since 2003 has left 200,000 people dead and forced 2.2 million others from their homes.


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