CLAIMING that missing or faulty equipment were supplied by the Government to Indian soldiers on peacekeeping missions in Congo and South Sudan, the United Nations has cut an estimated Rs 338 crore from its two-year reimbursements to India.
This decision was conveyed to India last month. Records, accessed by The Indian Express, show that the UN deducted $50.45 million towards equipment meant to be carried but was not held by the units according to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Indian Government. Or, equipment which has been categorised as “off road or unserviceable.”
The UN has sent a monthly tabulation of deductions which show that from March 2014 to April 2016, $35.39 million (Rs 237.1 crore) was deducted for the Congo mission while $15.05 million (Rs 100.8 crore) for the period May 2014 to February 2016 for the South Sudan mission.
As of August this year, there are around 2,300 Indian soldiers in the South Sudan mission and 3,400 soldiers in the Congo mission. Reimbursements for UN peacekeeping missions are based on the actual strength of troops in UN missions and the equipment held by them.
In 2013, the UN General Assembly introduced the idea of deduction for “absent or unserviceable” equipment to underline the fact that “troops are not able to fully meet the role for which they are deployed to UN peacekeeping operations if they are not properly equipped.”
When contacted, a UN spokesman from New York stated in a written response that the UN Secretariat has, in fact, “escalated the matter in recent months to those TCC’s (troop-contributing countries) associated with the units of most concern.”
“There are a number of flexibilities built into the framework to allow TCCs to address the problem. The Secretariat allows a leeway of 10 per cent of each type of equipment, and the TCC has a grace period of six months to fix the concern,” the spokesman said. However, there has been a relatively high incidence of these deductions since they were introduced from late 2013, and a number of TCCs, including India, have been affected, the spokesman added.
Declining to give details, the spokesman said: “One category of concern is aging equipment of long-deployed contingents in older missions…(like Congo and South Sudan), some of which has become unserviceable or difficult to repair.”
Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare said: “We are working closely with troop-contributing countries to address shortfalls in contingent-owned equipment, including through encouraging partnerships between troop contributors and those who can provide the required equipment. We have also sanctioned transportation costs for the replacement of aging requirement, including to India and other countries, upon their request.”