Panafrican News Agency

AU to use Chinese military aid to assist armies to combat ‘worrisome’ child abductions

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) is planning to use US$100 million worth of non-lethal military aid provided by the Chinese government to launch the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Standby Force to combat terrorism and rising violent crimes.

Bankole Adeoye, the new AU commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, while emphasizing the continental body had revised its rallying call for the “Silencing of the Guns” from 2020 to 2030, said a new platform bringing various institutions had been created as a first step towards combating violent crimes.

The first major step to be prioritized by the newly created institutional framework, which brings together organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Save the Children and other international bodies, is to rally against child abductions.

“We have no peace to keep across most of Africa. We have no peace with violent terrorism organizations like the Al Shabaab and the Boko Haram. From Somalia to the Sahel region, there has been increased abduction of children from the safety of their schools and dormitories,” Adeoye said.

A Steering Committee to lead the efforts to prepare the new roadmap for the engagement of the African Standby Force was scheduled for launch on Friday.

Banditry, kidnappings and terrorist attacks have continued to plague some pockets in Eastern Africa with the Al Shabaab in Somalia and Northern Kenya regions, in Southern African region.

Mozambique has been invaded by violent terrorist groups and the Boko Haram continues to threaten West Africa.

 Adeoye said the African Union was keen to implement the elements outlined in its peace and security architecture, which included the establishment of rapid response mechanisms to combat insecurity.

“We are facing a very worrisome situation. We believe by next year (2022), the African Standby Force (ASF) would be capable. We are working in this mode to better manage the conflict situation in Africa. We will be getting US$100 million offensive aid from China to be used for the SADC Standby Force,” Adeoye said during a quarterly news conference convened by the AU Commission.

The AU Commissioner said the continental body was cooperating with all peacekeeping missions currently deployed in Africa, including those operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Sahel region to improve security management within Africa.

He said current efforts should not focus on peacekeeping but on peace enforcement mechanisms.

The AU has identified seven countries as particularly vulnerable to terrorism and political instability. These are Somalia, Chad, Mali, Libya, Mozambique, South Sudan and Sudan.

Meanwhile, the AU has reiterated that while the UN Charter does not recognize the need for peace enforcement as a priority, it is concerned the approach to peacekeeping in situations where violent terrorist organisations continue to provide life-saving support does not require peacekeeping.

“We should not all be looking at the Afghanistan scenario in the conflicts in Africa. We call on all to cooperate and work together. It is disastrous to see situations like these in areas where there are UN humanitarian workers.

"We want unification of our peacekeeping and peace enforcement mechanisms,” Adeoye said in reference to a proposal to mix African and UN peacekeeping operations.

-0- PANA AO/RA 4Sept2021