OTTAWA — The Liberal government announced Friday that it will make 600 Canadian troops available for UN peacekeeping operations. Here are five places they could end up.
1) Mali. The dangers are very real, with 105 peacekeepers have been killed in this West African country since April 2013. Islamist militant groups are responsible for most of the deaths, highlighting the nature of the conflict. The big selling points seem to be that Canada and Mali are both francophone countries, and the UN mission needs the type of advanced skills and equipment a country such as Canada can offer.
2) Central African Republic. Another peacekeeping mission in a francophone country that is in desperate need of professional military forces. The reason, though, is that the peacekeeping mission here has been severely tarnished by allegations of sexual misconduct. The mission's purpose is to monitor a tentative peace between Muslim rebels and Christian militias.
3) Democratic Republic of Congo. The current mission has been underway since 1999 and is widely considered a mess. Criticized for failing to stop the massacre of civilians by rebels and other armed groups in the north and east of the country, it has been plagued by reports of blue helmets sexually exploiting and abusing minors. There are also concerns about the potential for violence during elections in the fall. The UN previously asked Canada to lead the DRC mission in 2010.
4) South Sudan. Forces loyal to the president and vice-president have been at war since late 2013, with the fighting at times resulting in massacres. There have been fears about peacekeepers being caught between the two sides. Yet the mission has been criticized for not doing enough to protect civilians, including a group of foreign aid workers who were attacked and raped earlier this month.
5) Colombia. Different from the other missions on this list not only because it's in South America, but also because the peacekeepers here are unarmed observers. It's also the safest but smallest mission on this list. The purpose is to monitor the recent peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas.
- Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.