Saturday, July 16, 2016

African Union Explains Delayed Response to Crises
New Times
July 16, 2016

The African Union has admitted to late response to conflicts across the continent, citing challenges in funding and bureaucratic procedures.

The admission was made by the African Union Commission deputy chairperson Erastus Mwencha.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Mwencha said in the event of conflicts that require military intervention, the African Union goes through a lengthy process leading to late interventions.

The African Union has come under fire severally for delayed interventions which most people say leads to an increase in the number of victims.

The delays are partly brought about by lack of adequate resources.

“One area that has proved to be a challenge is peace and security. We have to go through three stages; we require authorisation from the United Nations Security Council. You cannot undertake such operation without their authorisation which takes time.”

After getting consent from the UN, the Union then sets out to mobilise funds from international partners and donors and later moves to appeal to countries to contribute troops.

“It is right that we come late. Funding is part of the challenge. At times we have to go to the development partners for funding. Unless it is a UN authorised mission, you cannot access the UN budget. The process of putting together resources is time consuming,” he said.

Other than funding constraints, mobilising troops, training and preparing them for deployment also delays military interventions, he said.

“The second aspect is that unless you have a standby force, you need to mobilise forces and move them, train them, develop a concept of operations, do assessment of number of troops required and understand how they will operate,” he added.

He, however, said that, going forward by relying less on foreign aid and donor support, they would be able to deploy on time.

He noted that the AU has since put in place a standby force that would reduce time taken for deployment.

“But now we are going past that, we have a standby force, we can be able to deploy in a relatively fast time. In the past, it took about 22 weeks to deploy but now we want to do it in under 10 weeks,” Mwencha said.

By contributing to the operations as opposed to donations, Mwencha said the Union will have a larger say as to how they want their interventions done.

He added that the Union had employed the services of former African Development Bank chief Dr Donald Kaberuka to look into the possibility of having predictable resources to enable faster interventions.

Members of the African Union set up about a 25,000-strong multinational standby force in 2015.

One of the reasons the force was established was to avoid the continent relying on countries outside Africa for conflict resolution.

Last year it was estimated that the AU needed $1bn to make the force operational.

The African Union is currently working on increasing members’ contribution as well as creating alternative sources of funding to reduce reliance on donor funding. The financing aspect of the Union is expected to take the centre stage at the ongoing African Union Summit.

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