Le forze Onu stanno intervenendo più pesantemente per assicurare la pace

<105045891"> Onu, Politica estera, Africa, Congo NYT 05-05-23

<105045892"> Le forze Onu stanno intervenendo più pesantemente per assicurare la pace

<105045893"> L’ Onu sta permettendo alle truppe di “peacekeeping” di mettere in atto le operazioni più aggressive della sua storia.

Marc Lacey

Nel 1994 non ha saputo evitare gli stermini di massa in Ruanda e ha fallito le missioni in Bosnia e Somalia.

Un mutamento che è in corso da un decennio, dopo che il C.d.S. ha fatto suo il concetto di “mantenere la pace in modo energico”, perché non la presenza degli elmetti blu sul terreno per evitare lo scontro.

È in Congo, nella provincia di Ituri nell’Est, dove le nuove tattiche sono più evidenti; qui vi è il maggior dispiegamento di truppe Onu del mondo, con soldati che viaggiano in camionette corazzate, rispondono al fuoco quando i cecchini li prendono di mira, dispongono di carri armati, mortai e lanciagranate a propulsione missilistica, armi di cui fanno forte uso. Elicotteri da guerra Mi-25 sorvolano la foresta alla ricerca di guerrieri tribali, circondano i villaggi nelle roccaforti delle milizie, che poi setacciano alla ricerca di armi. Il generale Babacar Gaye del Senegal: «Potrebbe sembrare guerra, ma è peacekeeping». Le truppe Onu hanno subito diverse perdite.

In Congo la missione Onu è iniziata come missione di osservatori nel 1999, e poi si è ingrandita fino a 16 500 soldati, ancora considerati insufficienti.

Il punto di svolta è stato in Sierra Leone nel 2000, quando i ribelli hanno ucciso alcuni elmetti blu e hanno fatto centinaia di ostaggi. Nel rapporto chiesto dall’ Onu, Lakhdar Brahimi, ex ministro degli Esteri algerino, chiese maggior velocità di dispiegamento delle truppe: «Tutte le buone intenzioni del mondo non possono sostituire la capacità fondamentale di proiezione di una forza affidabile».

Così le truppe Onu agiscono attivamente ricorrendo al capitolo VII della Carta Onu che consente loro di proteggere i loro soldati o i civili ricorrendo alla forza. Ognuno dei contingenti presenti a Bunia nell’Est Congo, ad Haiti, in Liberia, Sieera Leone, Kosovo, Burundi e Costa d’Avorio è andato oltre la tradizionale nozione di “peacekeeping”, secondo cui gli elmetti blu occupano una zona neutrale tra gli ex combattenti.

Dopo il fallimento delle missioni negli anni 1990, i paesi occidentali hanno iniziato a fornire molte meno truppe all’estero. Nel 1998 circa il 45% delle “truppe di pace” veniva dai paesi occidentali: ora sono meno del 10%, la maggior parte proviene dai Pvs . In Congo la maggior parte delle truppe Onu è costituita da indiani, pachistani, bangladeshi e nepalesi. NYT 05-05-23

U.N. Forces Using Tougher Tactics to Secure Peace


NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 – The United Nations, burdened by its inability to stave off the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994 and by failed missions in Bosnia and Somalia, is allowing its peacekeepers to mount some of the most aggressive operations in its history.

The change has been evolving over the last decade, as the Security Council has adopted the notion of “robust peacekeeping” and rejected the idea that the mere presence of blue-helmeted soldiers on the ground helps quell combat.

It is most obvious in Congo, which commands by far the largest deployment of United Nations troops in the world. Peacekeepers in armored personnel carriers, facing enemy sniper attacks as they lumber through rugged dirt paths in the eastern Ituri region, are returning fire. Attack helicopters swoop down over the trees in search of tribal fighters. And peacekeepers are surrounding villages in militia strongholds and searching hut by hut for guns.

“The ghost of Rwanda lies very heavily over how the U.N. and the Security Council have chosen to deal with Ituri,” said David Harland, a top official at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York.

A turning point came in 2000 after rebels in Sierra Leone killed some peacekeepers and took hundreds more hostage. The United Nations commissioned a review, headed by Lakhdar Brahimi, a former foreign minister of Algeria, which called for troops to be deployed more rapidly in peace enforcement operations. “No amount of good intentions can substitute for the fundamental ability to project credible force,” the so-called Brahimi Report said.

Recently a commander in eastern Congo, a Bangladeshi colonel named Hussain Mahmud Choudhury, pointed at a huge map in his office in Bunia, the regional capital, to show a reporter where his troops had been chasing the militias. “Here, here, here,” he said, banging on the map.

“If we hear they are somewhere, we move in,” he said. “We don’t get them all the time, but they have to run. Their morale is shattered, and from a military point of view, that is everything.”

The peacekeepers in Haiti, as well, are using Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, which allows them to protect their soldiers or innocent civilians by using force. Peace missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Burundi and Ivory Coast – each with its own rules of engagement – have also moved well beyond the traditional notion of peacekeeping in which blue helmets occupy a neutral zone between former combatants.

But nowhere do war and peace seem as cloudy as in Congo, where peacekeepers received a beefed-up mandate from the Security Council in 2003 – and where at least one human rights group has complained of civilian casualties.

“The trend over the last decade is that you deal with many factions , factions that don’t always have a political agenda and that are not always committed to peace,” said Margaret Carey, an Africa specialist at the United Nations’ peacekeeping office. “Ituri is an extreme example.”

The operation in Congo began as a modest observer mission in 1999. It has mushroomed, now commanding 16,500 soldiers – but is still regarded as understaffed by United Nations officials in New York.

After the failed missions of the 1990’s, Western countries began contributing significantly fewer troops overseas. In 1998, about 45 percent of peacekeepers came from Western armies. The figure is now less than 10 percent; most now come from the developing world.

In Congo, most of the peacekeepers are Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Nepalese.

As they root out the insurgents who prey on Ituri’s population, United Nations soldiers in the east have at their disposal tanks, armored personnel carriers, Mi-25 attack helicopters, mortars and rocket-propelled grenade launchers – all of which are getting heavy use.

“It may look like war but it’s peacekeeping,” said Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye of Senegal, the force commander in Congo, of the largest and most robust of the 18 United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.

At a militia camp in Kagaba recently, the peacekeepers backed up besieged Congolese troops and engaged in a running battle with ethnic Lendu fighters.

In March, after an ambush that killed nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers, the United Nations forces raided a crowded market near Loga to root out fighters preying on the local population. The peacekeepers also conduct what they call “cordon and search” operations, which are essentially hunts for weaponry in remote villages.

Their opponents are tribal fighters who ignored the United Nations deadline of April 1 for disar
A last opportunity to comply is approaching; after that, the peacekeepers say they will get even tougher. As the United Nations has become more aggressive, many tribal warriors have disarmed. Of the 15,000 fighters that the United Nations estimates once operated in Ituri, nearly 14,000 have turned in their weapons. The holdouts are fierce, and show no signs of surrendering.

In February, militia fighters ambushed a group of Bangladeshi soldiers on a foot patrol around a camp of displaced people. Nine peacekeepers were killed, then mutilated.

On May 12, another Bangladeshi patrol was ambushed. This time, six were wounded and one was killed. At a memorial service, Dominique Aitouyahia-McAdams, the top civilian in the United Nations operation in Bunia, said the death would only embolden the operation in its quest for peace. She called those who killed the peacekeepers “remnant militia bandits still marauding in the district.”

General Gaye was in Bunia the other day to attend a lavish ceremony for the first anniversary of a peace deal that the militias signed, agreeing to give up their guns. Since that declaration, one of the half dozen militias in Ituri has disbanded, and others have shrunk to small bands. Various militia leaders have been arrested by the Congolese, with help from peacekeepers.

But the ceremony occurred a day after the memorial service, demonstrating that the job was not done.

United Nations peacekeepers in Congo were not always so gung-ho. For years, they were criticized for huddling in their camps as atrocities recurred in the countryside. Now, some critics condemn them for being too aggressive. And critics also denounce the sexual abuse of girls by some peacekeepers.

Justice Plus, a rights group based in Bunia, lamented that when the peacekeepers raided the market near Loga some civilians “paid with their life while the mandate of the United Nations was to protect them.”

The get-tough approach wins praise from those in Bunia who remember when, just two years ago, it was a battlefield between rival Hema and Lendu militias.

As Lendu militias chased Hemas out of Bunia in May 2003, Lea Assamba, 17, was confronted by armed Lendu men and threatened with death. She said she explained to them frantically that she was not a Hema but someone from another tribe, one not involved in Ituri’s madness.

The militiamen made her suffer nonetheless. They killed a Hema girl standing by, and her body fell on Lea. They made her balance on her head the decapitated head of a Hema man, she said. The stranger’s blood dripped down on her.

Lea escaped but was confronted by more marauding militias down the road. They shot some people standing next to her, and she dropped to the ground as they did. They died. She, covered with blood, was left for dead.

“Things would not be good if Monuc went away,” Lea said, using the French acronym for the United Nations mission in Congo.

But not far from Bunia, awful things continue. Villagers are on the run. Men with guns and machetes chase them. In the midst of it, heavily armed United Nations soldiers are trying to extend their reach. They engage in something shy of war but also a long way from peace.

Marc Lacey reported from Bunia, Congo, and Nairobi for this article.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times

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