Peacekeeping: The Somalia Bonus


June 22, 2010: In an effort to get more African nations to contribute peacekeepers, the UN is more than doubling the pay of those serving in Somalia. The problem is that Somalia is not normal peacekeeping, it is a war zone. This is called peacemaking, and it's a lot more dangerous and stressful.

Normally, each peacekeeper costs the UN about $60,000 a year. Only about a quarter of that is pay for the troops. The money comes from the wealthier countries, which the UN solicits to pay for these operations. Most of the troops come from less wealthy nations, where the troops are happy to serve for about a thousand dollars a month. This is usually much more than the troops normally make. There's also bonuses like new equipment they will likely get, again, paid for by wealthier countries. The troops also get to travel. OK, not to a tourist spot, but usually to an exotic, and somewhat dangerous, one. The UN usually provides better living conditions than the troops get at home. But in Somalia, better living conditions are accompanied by constant exposure to hostile gunmen.

The 5,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers have been in Somalia for three years, suffering about one fatality a month, plus several more wounded, and many more casualties from accidents and disease. It's normal for peacekeepers to suffer about 10 percent casualties a year, nearly all accidents and disease. But in Somalia, you are getting shot at a lot more, and sometimes you get hit. Higher pay attracts more volunteers, this was seen in Iraq, where many former African soldiers eagerly sought out security jobs in Iraq. You were more likely to get hurt there, than in Somalia, but the pay was worth it. You could save enough to change your life back home (by having enough cash to buy a business or a house).






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