Thursday, June 12, 2003

Count on us to let you down

The United Nations peacekeepers who were eaten by cannibals in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, had pleaded with their superiors to be evacuated -- in vain, of course. According to to a Knight Ridder correspondent:

BUNIA, Congo - For six days, two terrified United Nations military observers phoned their superiors - as many as four times a day - begging to be evacuated from their remote outpost in northeastern Congo.

They were receiving death threats, they said. They were alone and unarmed in Mongbwalu, a former gold-mining town ruled by the cannibalistic Lendu tribal militias. A U.N. helicopter from the town of Bunia could have retrieved them in 35 minutes.

But the United Nations, handcuffed by its own rules and bureaucracy, never sent a chopper. On May 18, 10 days after the two peacekeepers made their first distress call, the United Nations finally flew some armed peacekeepers to Mongbwalu.

They found the mutilated bodies of Maj. Safwat al Oran, 37, of Jordan, and Capt. Siddon Davis Banda, 29, of Malawi.

Why am I not surprised? Apparently U.N. rules required that the militia had to give permission to land a helicopter to evacuate their own men.

"Their stomachs were split open and their hearts and livers were missing. One man's brain was gone."

Maybe the "militia" the UN deferred to had something to do with the disappearance of their internal organs.

But never fear, Belgium's Criminal Court is coming to the rescue. "A high-powered U.N. peace mission arrived in Kinshasa yesterday and warned that brutal tribal fighting in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo was 'unacceptable,' with war criminals liable to face an international tribunal." War criminals? How about starting with the UN.