“I felt personally guilty and guilty toward the people I met there,” said Atul Khare, the assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, who recently visited Luvungi. “They told me, ‘We’ve been raped, we’ve been brutalized, give us peace and security.’ Unfortunately, I said, that is something I cannot promise.”Of course, it is not just that the UN sucks as a peace-keeping bureaucracy (as Michael Barnett documented in his book Eyewitness to Genocide). It has much to do with the lack of commitment by the powerful, so that the peacekeepers in Congo are too few, too poorly resourced, and a very week Congolese government.
“The government’s able to dominate only the road,” explained Lt. Col. R. D. Sharma. “The rest,” he said, sweeping his hand over the treetops, “is the negative forces.”The place is lacking in so many things including communications infrastructure so the news gets out slowly, if at all. One cannot even use a metaphor of plugging fingers into the holes of a dike because there are more holes than dike.
Do I expect UN performance here to improve? No, as its most powerful members have their attention and their resources focused elsewhere.