You are here


Primary tabs

559.51 MiB000
This torrent has no flags.

Do we really know how peacekeepers behave abroad?

Their blue helmets symbolize hope. They are sent to countries where entire populations have been destroyed by deadly conflict. Soldiers from every corner of the world serve as representatives of their countries and work on behalf of the United Nations. Their role is to protect civilians and keep belligerent parties at bay. At least, that is their official mandate.

Observers have been increasingly asking a pivotal question: what if peacekeepers are part of the problem, instead of the solution? A steady stream of accusations has been directed at peacekeepers in Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Haiti, ranging from paying for sex, sexual abuse and rape of underage girls, to the abandonment of thousands of newborn babies. Do we really know how peacekeepers behave abroad? And who has turned a blind eye to these abuses for all these years? Shouldn't the peacekeeper's impunity be questioned? A Canadian lawyer and a team of Quebec police officers are instrumental in both helping the victims and tracking down some of the men accused of these crimes.

Blue Helmets: Peace and Dishonour was directed by Montreal filmmaker Raymonde Provencher and produced by Macumba Films in association with CBC Newsworld and Radio Canada.
Blue Helmets: Peace and Dishonour was directed by Montreal filmmaker Raymonde Provencher and produced by Macumba Films in association with CBC Newsworld and Radio Canada.

Haitian policemen said beaten by U.N. peacekeepers
Thu Aug 7, 2008 10:22pm EDT
By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Two Haitian policemen were severely beaten by U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti's largest and most violent slum, a local municipal official and witnesses said on Thursday.

They said the seemingly arbitrary attack on the plainclothes officers, identified as Osnald Denis and Donson Bien-Aime, occurred on Wednesday in Cite Soleil, a teeming warren of shanties on the south side of the impoverished Caribbean nation's capital.

Cite Soleil Mayor Wilson Louis, in an account supported by several witnesses, told Reuters about 10 Brazilian members of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti took part in the beating.

"I can confirm that the two policemen were severely beaten up by Brazilian troops of the U.N. mission here," Louis said.

"We deplore and condemn this behavior and those at fault should be punished," he added.

Eyewitnesses said the U.N. troops ordered the policemen to leave the area during a security operation along narrow streets and back alleys once the fiefdom of armed gangs whose leaders were mostly loyal to ousted former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The two policemen had properly identified themselves but were beaten, one of them into unconsciousness, after refusing to leave the area, said one witnesses, who gave his name as Maxon Edouard.

Louis said the policemen were being treated for their injuries in a local hospital and senior Haitian police officials had no immediate comment on the incident,

But U.N. spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud de la Combe said the incident was under investigation and vowed that appropriate sanctions would be applied if the allegations of abuse and excessive use of force were confirmed.

The U.N. peacekeeping force -- currently 6,800 troops and nearly 2,000 police -- returned to Haiti after Aristide was ousted in an armed rebellion in February 2004.

President Rene Preval authorized the peacekeepers to launch a crackdown on Cite Soleil's notorious gangs to pacify the slum shortly after he took office in May 2006. (Editing by Tom Brown)

UN forces 'stretched to limits'

The UN risks failure in Darfur, says the outgoing head of UN peacekeeping
United Nations peacekeepers are stretched to their limit, the outgoing head of UN peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, has warned.
Mr Guehenno, who held the post for eight years, told the BBC there was a danger UN troops could be misused.
"The international community... faced with a tragedy, wants to do something," says Mr Guehenno. "To deploy blue helmets can look like the easy answer."
Mr Guehenno also said that peacekeepers now in Darfur were under-resourced.
Mr Guehenno said that using UN peacekeepers in the wrong circumstances risked failure.
"The blue helmets, they are there to support the process, the supposed political agreement," he told the BBC. "If there is no political agreement there is a real risk that the force will not make a difference."

'Very strong force'
The United Nations currently has more than 9,000 troops and police in the Darfur region of Sudan, in a joint UN-African Union force - with a total of 26,000 authorised to be deployed.
African aid agencies say the force is failing civilians in the region, and Mr Guehenno believes the force deployed there does not have the resources to do its job.
Total UN personnel deployed worldwide: 109,662, including:
DRC: 22,067 personnel
Liberia: 14,618
South Sudan: 13,316
Lebanon: 13,309
Haiti: 10,927
Darfur: 10,898
Ivory Coast: 10,452
Source: UN

UN ends African Horn peace force
Send us your comments
"Even if it had all the resources planned, in the absence of a solid political process, it would not be in a position to do the job," he said.
"I am enormously worried because I think that the risk there is that if we do not succeed in Darfur, that will reverberate throughout peacekeeping."
As well as its commitments in Darfur and elsewhere, the UN is under pressure to send peacekeepers to Somalia, where Islamist fighters are battling with Ethiopian forces.
The BBC's UN correspondent, Laura Trevelyan, says if peacekeepers were to be deployed, they would be going into a situation where there is no peace to keep.
Mr Guehenno is clear about the risks of sending peacekeepers to Somalia.
"If you want to deploy a force in an environment like that - unless you are prepared to suffer a lot of casualties - you need a very well-equipped force, a very strong force," he says.
"The danger is humiliation, is casualties, is that if you send a force and you don't make a real difference, then people will really turn away from Somalia, and that would be a real tragedy," he adds.