The Indonesian Military [TNI] will send a battalion of peacekeepers to Darfur, Sudan, to keep the peace amid rebel and tribal fighting in the African nation, a TNI general has said.
“The UN has asked for one battalion of our peacekeeping troops for Darfur, and of course we are ready for the request,” Indonesian Peacekeeping Center chief Brig. Gen. Imam Edy Mulyono told The Jakarta Post in his office in Cilangkap, East Jakarta on Thursday.
According to Imam, the TNI currently has five observers and a staff officer in Darfur and three observers in South Sudan.
The UN has previously said that 2.7 million people were driven from their homes in Darfur after years of fighting between ethnic African rebels, government forces and Arab militias.
The conflict broke out in 2003, when two rival groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) groups in Darfur, took up arms, accusing the Sudanese government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese in favor of Sudanese Arabs.
The ensuing conflict has been allegedly called the Darfur Genocide.
“For the first time, Indonesia will send one battalion of our peacekeepers to this country,” Imam said, adding that Indonesia should be proud that the UN had shown trust in the nation in asking it to send additional peacekeepers.
To fulfill the request, the TNI would deploy its stand-by peacekeeping force, which will undergo training starting on June 12 at the Indonesian Peace and Security Center (IPSC) in Sentul, West Java.
The center is Southeast Asia’s largest international training facility for UN peacekeeping forces.
“We’ve just recruited new peacekeepers of high standards. After some training, they will be ready to serve as peacekeepers in the conflict zone,” Imam said.
Other than the Darfur deployment, Imam said that the TNI was in the process of sending three MI-17 helicopters along with 100 support troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to support UN peacekeeping operations. “The process is almost complete.”
Indonesia first sent peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1957 under the aegis of the Garuda Contingent, which has since been the official designation for TNI troops assigned to peacekeeping missions.
Since then, Indonesia has sent 24,284 troops to several conflict zones, including Cambodia, the Middle East, Lebanon and Bosnia.
Indonesia currently has 175 peacekeepers stationed in the Congo, 1,446 in Lebanon and 167 in Haiti, according to the Defense Ministry.
The nation is on the list of the top 15 countries contributing troops to UN peacekeeping operations.
The country is planning to increase participation to 4,000 to become one of the world’s top 10 contributors.
The UN has 15 peacekeeping missions and one non-peacekeeping mission, in Afghanistan.
There are 121,000 personnel deployed on the missions, consisting of 90,000 troops, 15,000 police officers and the remainder as civilian staff.