Global Policy Forum

Indonesia Asks for UN Aid for Lebanon Peacekeeping

By Markus Junianto Sihaloho

November 22, 2009

Indonesia has again been asked to provide a warship for the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Lebanon but the new defense minister wants the UN to pick up part of the bill.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Sunday that he hoped the UN would share some of the financial burden of Indonesia's participation in the UN Maritime Task Force peacekeeping mission.

"Principally, we are OK to fulfill the request. The warship and the soldiers are ready," Purnomo said. "But there are costs for that. We want to share the financial burden with the UN with a clear mechanism."

He said participating in a UN peacekeeping mission was an honor, but costs were high and the government's budget was limited.

The Navy has previously said it is heavily in debt, which has affected the number of its sailing hours, including for search-and-rescue and law enforcement.

Maj. Gen. Supiadin, the military chief's operations assistant, said it took the KRI Diponegoro a month to sail home after the successful completion of its recent mission in Lebanon.

"For one month at sea, the ship's operational costs are at least Rp 9 billion [$939,000], including for fuel, and food and water for the crew," Supiadin said.

Indonesia's situation differed from that of European countries contributing to the task force because it only took those nations' militaries five hours to reach Lebanese waters, he said.

Supiadin said the Indonesian delegation is lobbying at UN headquarters in New York, explaining that sharing the financial burden could enhance the involvement of Indonesian troops as UN peacekeepers.

The KRI Diponegoro is the first Indonesian warship to join a UN peacekeeping mission. It was dispatched to Lebanon in March and arrived in Indonesia last week.

The country has more than 1,200 peacekeepers deployed to Lebanon.

Indonesia has deployed peacekeeping missions to work under the UN banner in numerous conflict zones across the world.

They include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mozambique, the Philippines and Somalia.

Meanwhile, the government was moving ahead with plans to build a peacekeeping mission center that would coordinate training for military and police officers before they are deployed on missions.

The center will be located in Sentul, West Java, just southeast of Jakarta, Purnomo said. He said the Defense Ministry was enhancing coordination with other ministries, including the Finance Ministry, to accelerate the center's establishment.

"We want to make sure that anyone joining peacekeeping missions should have basic military ability," Purnomo sad.

Supiadin said construction of the center should begin sometime next year.

Former Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono had earlier said the new peacekeeping center would be funded solely by the government.

This would contrast with the Police's Jakarta Law Enforcement Center in Semarang, Central Java, which was established in 2005 with foreign funding.




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