Global Policy Forum

Demoralized Sierra Leone Peacekeepers


By Philip Sherwell and Julius Strauss

The Ottawa Citizen
June 18, 2000

FREETOWN -- Nigerian troops who form the backbone of the troubled United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone have not been paid for four months as their government has pocketed UN contributions intended for the soldiers. Troops from other countries serving in Sierra Leone -- including Zambia, Kenya, Ghana, Bangladesh and Jordan -- have also been receiving less than the $1,500-per head monthly pay that the UN has handed over for them.

The UN mission is again supposed to be the major military force in the West African state. The UN operation is riven with political jealousies and military divisions. Few of the peacekeepers are willing to take risks -- nearly 500 Zambians surrendered and handed over their weapons to the rebels without firing a shot at one stage; reports that Freetown was about to fall emerged when Jordanian troops came across a bunch of armed men and fled, telling their commanders that a rebel force was advancing on the capital.

The failure to pay the peacekeepers is seen as a major cause of the poor morale plaguing the mission. ''It is not exactly a motivating force if troops whose lives may be in danger are not being paid,'' said a UN official. ''We cannot pay the individual soldiers. It is up to the governments to carry out those responsibilities,'' said the official. ''The soldiers should be paid at the rate laid down by the General Assembly in New York, but the poorer nations often regard this money as a source of revenue.''

The Nigerian government is the worst abuser of the system. The UN pays nations contributing to peacekeeping operations about $1,500 per month -- a small fortune for Third World nations -- on the understanding that the money will be passed on to the soldiers, but has no power to enforce the arrangement.

More Articles on Peacekeeping Finance


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.