Thursday, June 25, 2009
As we mentioned in a previous post, there are many blue helmets around. Actually, to be more precise, Simon and I are situated right in the middle of the world’s largest and most expensive peacekeeping force. MONUC – the acronym for Mission de l’ Organisation des Nations Unies au Congo – has around 18,000 soldiers located here in the east of the DRC. Their headquarters for Sud Kivu is right next to us; less than a 100 meter walk. While MONUC is the biggest and most expensive peacekeeping force in the world, it is probably also one of the most useless peacekeeping forces in the world. As we wrote before the Congolese don’t like them. The United Nations has very strict security measures, MONUC therefore can’t go to the places where they are most needed. Moreover, UN peacekeepers here are a very special bunch of people. The bluehelmets located here are mainly Pakistanis (we live next to the PakBat with their PakShop), Uruguans, and Chinese. The reasons for them to be here os not to safe the world. The salary of these soldiers are by paid for by the UN. Because these countries are poor, they receive – relatively – a lot of money when they send their soldiers out for UN missions. On top of this, the main reason why China is present is geo-politics; mining contracts. The east of the Congo is filled with valuable natural resources (don’t even get me started on this point). Anyhow, so far for sending soldiers to save the DR Congo and its people. Funny also is that these soldiers do not speak English. Worse, they don’t even speak French. So far for helping the population. Finally, MONUC has fancy fancy hardware; big cars, helicopters, speedboats in Lake Kivu, etc. The reason for having this, however, is mainly to get themselves out of trouble as soon as possible. MONUC is constantly present, but as soon as things turn dangerous they are the first to leave. So, luckily, they are still around.