United Nations, Nov 13: UN-backed peacekeepers have lost enough guns and ammunition in sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades to arm an army, according to a study by the Small Arms Survey.
The research group’s director, Eric Berman, said peacekeepers have lost “at least thousands of weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition” this century, often handing them over to local fighters without putting up a fight.
Losses range from pistols and bullets to heavy machine guns, mortars, recoilless guns and grenade launchers, which can be military game-changers on the battlefields of Somalia, Democratic republic of Congo, and Sudan, Berman told Al Jazeera.
“Peacekeepers are losing arms and ammunition that are going to be used against them and against civilians that they’re asked to protect, and prolonging conflicts that they’re asked to help resolve,” Berman said.
The 75-page study, called Making a Tough Job More Difficult, identifies 20 forces operating under the UN, the African Union or some other international coalition that have lost guns and ammunition from 1993-2017.
Most losses occurred in Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Mali and the Central African Republic.
Haiti, Cambodia, the Israel-Syria border and the Balkans have also been affected.
Some losses were unavoidable, the report said.
Peacekeepers can be ambushed while patrolling the “wrong place at the wrong time” or be overwhelmed in a surprise attack from a superior force and have caches plundered, Berman said.