TANZANIA, which has deployed troops to six various UN Peace keeping missions, is currently contemplating on dispatching a contingent force to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
According to the Minister of Defence and National Services, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, the troop deployment to the UN operations provides the country’s defence forces with experience in warzones and improve their skills in conflict resolution management.
In a televised interview, Dr Mwinyi said funds accrued from the UN as compensation to Tanzanian troops were being used to buy new military equipment for the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF).
Troops to the UN Peacekeeping missions are also paid personal allowances that enable them to improve their wellbeing, said the minister.
He said the Chinese government has provided funds to Tanzania for the expansion of the National Defence College, the biggest military college in Tanzania that also offers training to soldiers from the East and Southern African countries.
Dr Mwinyi said Tanzania, which serves as a gateway to East Africa and SADC region has been participating to joint military exercises by the two regional groupings and a good number of Tanzanian soldiers were undergoing military trainings in China, India, Canada, UK and the Soviet Union.
Trainers from developed countries as well come to Tanzania to conduct trainings. Tanzania has been providing peacekeepers to various parts of the world since 1995 and the country had, as of last May, 2,667 troops in five UN Peacekeeping Missions in Africa and one in Lebanon, according to the UN Peacekeeping Bulletin.
TPDF Spokesperson Colonel Ramadhan Dogoli told the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that the UN will decide the exact number of troops for deployment as well as the military gear, but “Usually in such missions, it’s one unit of three military companies.”
He declined to specify the time frame for Tanzanian troops to join UNMISS in the embattled South Sudan and their mandate in a war-torn nation with already 18,983 UN peacekeepers, 13,995 of them contingent force on the ground.
In 2013, Tanzania was one of three states that contributed a battalion of soldiers to the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) that helped to defeat the M23 rebels.
The FIB still conducts military operations against the Ugandan rebel group, the Allied Defence Forces (ADF).
The Tanzanian government has continually pledged support to the UN peacekeeping operations. The country has already lost 27 peacekeepers in UN missions, predominantly in Darfur and DR Congo where Tanzania has the largest contingent.
The deployment of Tanzanian troops to South Sudan comes in the wake of recently signed deal on power sharing by President Salva Kiir and his now reinstated Vice-President Riek Machar, with four other Vice-Presidents, to end civil war that has claimed thousands of lives and forced many to flee to the neigbhouring countries— Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Central Africa.