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Week of 5.15.09

Can the U.N. Keep the Peace?

Are U.N. peacekeepers failing in their mission to protect the world?

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Web Features

Challenges in the Congo
Correspondent Paul Beban on the problems and dangers he faced in the Congo.

On Patrol with the U.N.
What's daily life like in the Congo? See images from NOW's journey to Africa.

Violence in Congo
An aid worker describes her harrowing experiences as rebel fighters close in.

U.N. Peacekeeping "Inadequate"
Phil Lancaster, a peacekeeping veteran, on the problems facing the U.N.

A record 115,000 U.N. peacekeepers are now deployed in 20 countries, and their mission is more vital than ever. But critics and insiders alike are openly worried that the current peacekeeping model is overstretched—and at risk of failure.

This week, NOW travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to witness today's largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation. There, 17,000 U.N. troops are tasked with protecting millions of people over a rugged and dangerous territory the size of the Eastern United States. But the effort is struggling—last November, local rebels massacred civilians less than a mile from one of the U.N. bases.

How can U.N. peacekeeping be improved so that it fulfills its promise of protection to the world?

This show is a co-production with the Bureau for International Reporting (BIR), a non-profit video news production company.

Related Links

The Weekly Q
BBC: Rwandan soldiers enter DR Congo

The Economist: Congo Background Briefing

New York Times: A Congolese Rebel Leader Who Once Seemed Untouchable Is Caught

Enough Project: Eastern Congo - Roots of the Crisis, from colonial times to the present day.

Refugees International: Congo, provides an overview of the current humanitarian situation.

South Kivu Women's Media Association, a non-profit organization which aims to counter sexually-based violence in the Congo by promoting women's rights through media.

U.N. Mission in Congo

The Failure of Humanity, by Phil Lancaster and Roméo Dallaire.

Viewer Comments

Commenter: Andre Amisi Mulundu
I am in the mission , I need to read and to know others'comments to widen my knowledge .

Commenter: Divine M
I really appreciate the reporting on this issue and am happy to see we are not alone.
I am in D.R.Congo and am in North Kivu province. I can Swear to GOD nothing is told of what's going on here. It is more than Irak! 6 Million dead so far and others dying everyday!!!
See, 16 persons including children and women were killed this morning only 4 Km from a UN camp and this by FDLR elements who are roaming around uncontrolled. Whenever UN visits them, they go there with unloaded weapons and sentitize them to a Voluntary disarmament, ignoring civilians who are being held hostage, and knowing those guys are armed and will go back to the villages to loot after their departure. There are many things to be said and there is a saying now in North Kivu that GOD no more lives around Eastern Congo. Everybody is looting: FARDC, FDLR, MAYIMAYI, LRA, ADF/NALU,.. There are even other groups like ADF/NALU from Uganda who are looting and killing everyday but still unknown to the exterior word. So who thinks it is over yet? Who ever is in heaven,in white house, and UN HQ New York, have mercy on us. We are human! We are by now dead more than any population in any war in history! More 7 times more than Rwandans, and more than the Shoah did. Will it ever be over? Send journalists here, and I will show them what nobody has ever seen. And then, it is not the Congolese government which will stop them from leaving the country with their reporting but...the UN.


Commenter: patient
The comments on DRC about harassments done by negatives forces and DRC army and MONUC are really truth. But I have one question is DRC conflict strong an enough to be resolve? My response is no.

But EU and USA are the one against DRC peace and development, because they are fueling the conflict by supporting neighboring countries to invade Congo. These two unions are like brothers if is to fuel they do, behind the scene the pretend to spend much to cease the fire and are against any other country to involve in resolution of conflict. They believe they are the one can do every thing for the world.

As they have refused to release DRC for it own destiny. After 50 years of lies, killings, and tricked poor financial support. It is time for DRC to have it own way of resolving problem with the welcome support of UN .the request are:
* The UN to allow DRC by improving it relation with Rwanda Uganda and Burundi
*the UN has to organize the inter Rwandese dialogue for ending with FDLR Rwanda armed group
*the UN has to support DRC army in training, insure the adequate payments of soldiers. Facilitate air transportation of soldiers and camping facilities.
*the UN has to facilitate quick integration of armed group in FARDC by having a good data base of theirs identifications.
*the UN has to support DRC in it programmer of reconstructions supported by china.(contrats chinois)

If these things are not done 100 years will be short for UN to end the conflict DRC.

Commenter: Scott Morgan
The Current UN Mandate for MONUC is hopelessly flawed. The Peacekeepers have no powers to actually prevent attacks or atrocities from occuring. Various Militias Operate with Impunity as well.

A Strong Centralized Government in Kinshasa with the Ability to enforce its laws in the Kivu Provinces in necessary for the Congo to survive. As long as the Various Militias and their Regional Backers and the Multi-National Companies with Interests in the Natural Resources maitain their Laws in the Region then the UN efforts will be Neutralized.

Last November the UN asked for Special Forces to be sent to Augment MONUC. None have been sent however.

Fix the Mandate for MONUC, Give the Congolese Government the Ability to Govern and it will have a chance.

Commenter: Christina E. Mitchell
I appreciate the story on the DRC. I have been studying the conflict in the North and South Kivu regions for approximately three years and have recently completed a stint as a guest lecturer on the subject of the ongoing war and its economic roots. I am concerned that your story did not include reference to the amount of violence in which the UN troops themselves are involved. Not all of the troops are duplicitous by any measurable means; however,UN troops have been found to partake in rape inside the refugee camps, conduct prostitution rings both inside the refugee camps and villages, partake in the illegal trade in minerals which fuels the fighting, and illegally tax the miners and the traders working in the mineral rich areas. I was especially surprised that these incidents were not related by Human Rights Watch through whose organization I gather much of my information.

Commenter: Vritaniss Orellana
The United Nations peacekeeping troops dependency on the absolute charity of other countries who are reluctant to send a their own nations troops in order to maintain the peace on foreign soil clearly depicts the major fault at hand: The UN NEEDS its own army NOW!

No longer can we ignore Winston Churchill's proposal when in 1946 he advocated for a UN Army made up of soldiers,commanders, and leading officers from every country in the world who would come to represent their own respective nations but be united by the world organizations effort to conserve peace.

If the United States Ambassador,Susan Rice, is truly concerned with taxpayers money and what it is being spent on then as a taxpayer, instead of acting as a bank as the United States currently does in the United nations, I would prefer if efforts and money were being spent also on realizing this proposal which in my opinion is long over due.

No longer can we afford, not in the amount of dollars, but in the number of innocent lives which are being lost in Africa and other parts of the world to terrorism, genocide, and war everyday. No longer can we depend on the charity of other nations nor the lack of action which the UN is infamously known for doing.

Honestly, not a single helicopter sent after pleading to the UN. Not surprising. But what more can the United Nations expect then but for rebellions to rise and the momentum gained by reformist to be lost. This lack of action and response is a waste of taxpayers money if this continues to be the United Sates and the World's priority. And it shouldn't.

The frustration of humanitarians and members of the UN alike is clearly felt in respect to this issue and I say enough is enough. It is time to press the reset button before the button to destruction is pressed.

Commenter: Ann Shannon
Until Western developed countries send in substantial numbers of troops and logistical support, UN peacekeeping will continue to be a cruel joke, a shallow pretense and a mocking betrayal of those whom it is mandated to protect. The militias perpetrating the atrocities MUST be dealt with...we have just given them free rein.

Until a structure is established to assure the Congolese Army is actually paid and given provisions, it will continue to be one of the perpetrating militias adding to the array of atrocities and wholesale rape of the women of DR Congo.

These are not insurmountable problems. We are simply indifferent.

Commenter: Bob Anthony
I am tired of all the negative reporting on this program. Whatever happened to fair and balanced? I have never heard any good news on this program about what politicans or national organizations are doing right. You always report what is wrong? It can not be all bad news all the time. This is why I no longer support PBS

Commenter: deven
The UN effort has to be a collective effort incorporating logistical, equipment and troop support by all nations not just the lesser member nations but countries like the US as well that yield veto power.

The mandates in many war torn areas are non combative and are therefore impotent when it comes to protecting the innocent.

The money to increase troop support and provide sophisticated equipment can be made available if the UN is financially audited and this made public to taxpayers

There is far too much frivolous spending on creating a better quality of life for UN members and ambassadors wherever they are deployed in the world, and less spent on fulfilling its primary mandate and mission of helping the poor , war torn and ill.

There has to be more transparency and without a doubt accountability

Commenter: Ann Shannon
Thank you for doing this very important segment on UN Peacekeeping and its failures in DR Congo. Please keep pressing in on this story.

In the far NE corner of DR Congo in Dungu and the surrounding region, the entire population is now starving. The LRA continues to have free range after intensifying its attacks and burning entire villages since last August. The whole region is under seige, while the Congolese Army and UN Peacekeepers twiddle their thumbs. Locals were unable to harvest their fields last fall,or plant them this spring. Now they don't even have seeds to plant a garden in town. There is little to no NGO support for a starving population, and the story is ignored by the international media.

Please keep telling the story of DR Congo. There are so many dimensions of it that are never touched.
The Rwandan genocide was nothing compared to what is going on in Congo right now. And the world continues to turn its back. We are all genocidaires by virtue of our neglect and refusal to respond and to respond adequately.

Commenter: Jorge De La Sierra
Is it me or did anyone else notice that the UN troops did not have their weapons loaded? Unless they were all carrying single round bolt action rifles, none of the UN soldiers that were shown had a magazine in their rifle. Are they doing this because that way they can project themselves to potential adversaries as none-threatening? This obviously tells the rebels that they (the UN troops) are not there to fight anyone; hence, past -present and future masacres! Right in their faces!!

This is the typical UN political, wanna-be, gut-less "BS" that got American soldiers killed in Somalia. The nightmare that it is to be under any form of gutless UN command is what will "do in" this and any other future so called UN "safekeeping mission"; and hopefully, the entire UN circus. Get the UN circus out of my city and take it to Paris... where it really belongs!

Commenter: Wellington
I Watching your show Now on PBS of Republican of Congo, But the information for the program said Dominican Republic of Congo. Great Show, Help me we the geography, Thank
Albuquerque NM

Can the U.N. Keep the Peace?

Reporter's Notebook: Challenges in the Congo

Slideshow: On Patrol with the U.N.

Essay: Violence in Congo

Video: Lancaster: U.N. Peacekeeping "Inadequate"

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