The blue helmets must not be expected to show the other cheek
After eight Bangladeshi blue-helmets were captured and executed after being ambushed by Congolese militiamen last week, the UN peacekeepers decided to get tough: 60 militiamen were killed by the UN’s peacekeepers.
Tuesday’s gunbattle between 250 Pakistani peacekeepers and militia fighters broke out after the peacekeepers were fired upon as they went to dismantle a militia camp.
The troops responded with small-arms fire and support from Indian helicopter gunships, UN associate spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. [Daily News]
The peacekeepers’ robust handling of their brief is causing some eyebrows to be raised — reports claim that there were civilians among those killed and that there was collateral damage. But ‘robustness’ is hardly new: two years ago, French troops reacted robustly when attacked by militiamen. The role of foreign troops in peacekeeping roles has always been controversial, but it would be dangerously counterproductive if diplomatic hangups force its peacekeepers to become sitting ducks. Furthermore, it is naive to pretend that foreign peacekeepers do not become party to the conflicts they are trying to solve. On the contrary, they are effective only if they are.
The UN Security Council has backed the decision of its field commanders to adopt ‘a more robust approach’. That is precisely the right thing to do.
Tailpiece. The UN mission in the Congo (MONUC) lists that it has 1304 troops from Bangladesh, 1302 from India (another 2000 are on their way), 1225 from Nepal, 1701 from Pakistan and two from Sri Lanka.
Related Post: On Lt Gen Satish Nambiar’s BBC Hard Talk interview