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Congo – a failure of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force

The United Nations Peace Keeping force is an international force comprising of contributory soldiers from many countries, who are deputed for deployment in countries where there is a need for some security forces to maintain law and order. These could be situations where there is a huge amount of internal strife, or the governing party are subjugating other sections of the population (as happened in some parts of the former republic of Yugoslavia), or where there is no effective country (such as the country of Somalia where a contingent of Ethiopian soldiers had entered under the mandate of an agreement by the African Union). In some cases, these contingents are successful in enforcing the peace, but in many other cases, the various constraints and controls placed on these peacekeeping forces prevents them from being effective.
Consider the case of Congo, where there is a Government, which has an army and police force, and is fighting some very determined rebels. The fight between the army and the rebels is quite bitter, and the rebels have also taken to terrorize the population. The incidence of rape and killings is high, with the use of rape being an instrument to punish entire localities. In addition, there is money involved with mines in the vicinity, and some of these mines are controlled by the rebels. The army and police are not exactly straight either.
In these circumstances, the peacekeepers have their tasks cut out, and are failing to implement the peace. There was a recent terror campaign in which a huge number of the woman in a township were gang raped one after the other, and there was nobody to stop them. The peace keepers were not to be found nearby, arriving there after everything had happened. Further, the responsibility of covering this area was on the Army, which had suddenly vanished. In such a case, the local people do not really appreciate the efforts being put in by the peace-keeping forces, and do not really perceive a sense of security.
UN peace keeping forces are sometimes called as police work being done by soldiers, in the sense that most of their work is around ensuring that there is a sense of security in the area, and not indulging in combat operations as they are trained to do. This sort of work is not really what they are supposed to do, and postings in such areas also dulls their edge. Further, their hands are tied in terms of local politics, in terms of what they can do and what they cannot do; such policies prevent them from being able to take effective steps to counter such grisly episodes, or being there to stop such disasters from happening.

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