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UN Is Forced to Rethink Peacekeeping Missions

Operations are hampered by lack of support from member nations

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UNITED Nations peacekeeping efforts are entering a period of retrenchment. The UN is facing a serious shortage of troops, equipment, and monetary support.

The UN Security Council is expected to take up a prime example of the new problem this week when members discuss what to do next in Somalia. The United States, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and Turkey plan to withdraw more than 10,000 troops by the end of March.

In place of the 30,000 troop-level currently authorized for Somalia, UN Secretary- General Boutros Boutros-Ghali will ask the Security Council to approve only 16,000 troops. In a Jan. 6 report to the Council he says that despite numerous appeals to members for troops, ``not a single positive response has been received.''

Mr. Boutros-Ghali also expresses doubt that the option he backs can really finish the job the UN began. Under his proposal, UN troops would focus chiefly on protecting ports, aid convoys, and refugees. Somalis would be expected to voluntarily disarm. Yet clan rearmament and banditry are reportedly on the rise.

The UN peacekeeping operation in the former Yugoslavia faces similar new constraints. Some troop contributors warn that they might pull back their forces by spring if no peace agreement is reached. Also, the UN has been unable to recruit the full 7,600 extra troops authorized by the Security Council last spring to protect six designated Muslim ``safe areas'' in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Boutros-Ghali said last week that, though he has repeatedly appealed for more help, he has received no response other than 1,000 French reinforcement troops. Some UN officials say that as many as 10,000 more troops have been pledged but that the offers hinge on equipment conditions the UN has been unable to meet.

The estimates made by NATO last spring of troop strength required to implement any peace agreement reached in Bosnia are being reexamined and scaled back. Some UN officials now privately say that instead of the 70,000 forces once thought minimal, the job might be done with the existing authorized troop level of 28,000 in the former Yugoslavia. Diplomats say much will depend on the unity and determination of each party to abide by any accord. If rogue military elements object, more UN troops may be required.

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