Timor Leste and Croatia became new contributors in 2005, while Bosnia and Herzegovina upped the number of officers it is providing and El Salvador increased its police deployment seven-fold over 2004. Collectively, these four countries – all of which once hosted UN peacekeeping operations – last year contributed 67 of the 7,258 police officers deployed in 15 operations worldwide. While that represents a small portion of the overall force, UN officials say the significance goes beyond the numbers. “Governments in countries where the UN was once deployed to keep peace are now showing their appreciation for the stability we have cultivated by sending their own officers out to other hotspots,” said Police Advisor Mark Kroeker. “It is a vote of confidence for United Nations peacekeeping from those who know best how we operate.”The addition of new police contributors in 2005 is part of a trend that Mr. Kroeker intends to expand. Last year, 81 countries provided police; his target for this year is 100. “This is an ambitious goal but I believe we can meet it,” he told the UN News Service. “And by adding more States we can further diversify our contingents.” Mr. Kroeker is aiming not only to extend the geographic base of contributors but also to encourage greater participation by women. “Female representation currently stands at 3 per cent, which I consider shameful,” he stated. “Female officers have a distinct and important role to play, and I strongly urge more police contributing countries to provide women to our operations.”Recently, the small and remote Pacific island nation of Palau provided its first contribution, sending two female officers that were trained in Greece to serve in Timor-Leste.Other countries have significantly increased their deployments, such as Guinea, which contributed 3 officers in 2004 and 96 in 2005, and Senegal, which went from 155 in 2004 to 417 in 2005.UN Police play a crucial role in peacekeeping operations and other field missions, patrolling, providing training, advising local police services, helping to ensure compliance with human rights standards and assisting in a wide range of other areas. In so doing, they help to foster a safer environment where communities will be better protected and criminal activities will be prevented, disrupted and deterred.