The United Nations (UN) has requested the Defence Ministry to submit a list of military personnel who haven’t served in the North and East for the purpose of possible deployment as peacekeeping forces in operations conducted by them in Mali.
The UN has specified that none of the tri forces personnel in the list should have served in the said areas during the war and should also have never been deployed to the said areas for service. The UN has called for those not fitting into the said categories to be removed from the list.
From a list of 400 names of Army personnel sent for the purpose of selecting 212, only 40 have been selected. Even the commanding officer of the operation who even joined the Mali inspection tour, Colonel Samantha Wickramasena’s name has been struck off for the aforementioned reasons. A high official in the military said that finding troops for the operation had proven a challenge as a result of the notice issued by the UN.
Although UN representatives had proposed to visit Sri Lanka on June 20 for the official tour to inspect whether the vehicles purchased by the Ministry, costing Rs 11.5 billion, were up to UN standards, this has been postponed owing to the said issue. The UN has informed that they would not been going ahead with the tour unless the said list was submitted in adherence to the prescribed conditions.
A senior Army chief stated that it was dangerous to send troops sans combat and war experience to Mali in the Saharan desert, where frequent clashes between peace enforcement forces and factions of terrorists who have broken away from terrorist organizations such as the Boko Haram and Al-Qaida, have claimed the lives of 80 UN peacekeeping troopers, further adding that any disastrous consequence resulting from sending novices lacking in war experience would result in damage to the good name of the country’s military. The said officer also pointed out that the Government would only manage to reclaim the money spent on buying the equipment only after 14 years of service in such UN operations.