Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Three Indian Peacekeepers Killed in Eastern DRC and UN Builds a Trench Around Refugee Camp

Three Indian peacekeepers were killed overnight in Eastern Congo, the UN reports. Apparently, the base, in Karumba (in North Kivu), was attacked in the middle of the night (2am) by up to 60 armed men who wielded machetes and spears.

The article says:

Several peacekeepers engaged with the attackers, forcing them to retreat, but at least six military personnel were injured in the surprise attack, some of them critically. In the attack, whose motive is unclear, the assailants also stole two MONUSCO weapons.
And then the MONUSCO spokesperson (MONUSCO is new name for MONUC, the UN's mission in DRC) said:

The blue helmets, he stressed, “are not party to the conflict. They are here to ensure peace. So we don’t know exactly what are reasons behind this attack.”

This isn't the kind of thing that the peacekeepers should be dealing with or at least not if you're calling them peacekeepers. But, they are and it's clear they didn't have what it takes to respond adequately (MK, some help here would be nice). That being said, it is clear that the UN's peacekeepers in the DRC have long been a party to the conflict: they continue to provide support to the Congolese Army's efforts to defeat the FDLR and other rebel groups in the East. It's also clear that clinging to this pretense of impartiality, pretending that what is happening in Eastern Congo is "peacekeeping," and not providing contingents with what they need to really do at least a decent job, is completely counter-productive. Finally, the motive was unclear? Umm, how about just scaring these soldiers, threatening them, and sending a message that they are not in control?

Meanwhile, in Darfur, the UN/African Union Mission, UNAMID, is building a trench around Nyala and Kalma refugee camp. UNAMID is working with the local government to build a 40km long trench. You'll recall that the area has been suffering from increased crime and violence in recent months.

'The measure is designed to reduce the high incidence of criminality by regulating travel to and from the town,' UNAMID said on Monday, explaining that while the trench would limit entry and exit through small roads, Kalma town will remain fully accessible through major roads and highways. According to the Mission, local authorities will provide 24-hour protection for UNAMID equipment and personnel until the project’s completion.

I wonder how much it will help but that's it for today's "peacekeeping update."

1 comment:

  1. I don't actually agree that the Indians didn't have the resources to adequately respond. They are mechanized infantry facing 60 guys with machetes: there's a pretty clear asymmetry in combat power in favor of the Indian troops.

    But like all clever asymmetric opponents, these machete-wielding Mai Mai militia appear to have studied their MONUSCO enemies (and yes, that is how many Mai Mai in North Kivu regard MONUSCO) and figured out how to neutralize that imbalance. In this case, they either posed as civilians seeking assistance at the gates to the MONUSCO operating base, or waited until genuine civilians did so. Either way, they waited until the MONUSCO troops let down their guard in way that allowed the militia to close distance and kill some of them. Contingent commanders in UN PKOs have a lot of influence over the posture their troops adopt, and if these Indians had shown up with the same attitude their comrades from Gurkha Battalions have in the past (in the same tactical AOR), I doubt this would have happened.

    As to why the Mai Mai attacked - it was probably PARECO Mai Mai, who have regarded MONUC/MONUSCO as their enemy since fighting in late 2009/early 2010 between the Congolese army and Mai Mai on one side, and the CNDP on the other. The Mai Mai were (violently) unhappy with MONUC for not being hard enough on the CNDP.