UNITED NATIONS. A DYSFUNCTIONAL CHAIN: SUDANESE FLEE TO CHAD, CHADIANS TO CAMEROON, CAMEROONIANS TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. SOMALIANS OUT OF MOGADISHU, U.N. OUT OF ERITREA...

 

A DYSFUNCTIONAL CHAIN: SUDANESE FLEE TO CHAD, CHADIANS TO CAMEROON, CAMEROONIANS TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC. SOMALIANS OUT OF MOGADISHU, U.N. OUT OF ERITREA...

15 MARCH 2008

In evaluating the quality of work by U.N. Special Envoys, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon repeatedly indicated that he cared for results only. Here they are in Eastern Africa according to U.N.'s own announcements:

By the beginning of March 2008, there were 500,000 (half a million) "vulnerable" people -- mostly Sudanese and internally displaced persons in the region of Eastern Chad. At the same time, the fighting in the capital N'Djamena has driven at least 30,000 Chadians to the town of Kousseri in neighbouring Cameroon. A grant of $4.7 million from the U.N. Central Emergency Relief Fund helped relocate many of them to a new camp at Maltam (also in Cameroon) "until they feel comfortable enough to return home," according to spokeswoman Sophie de Caen. (Take your time, Sophie!) Similarly, Cameroonian refugees regularly find their way to the Central African Republic, conveniently known as CAR. Meanwhile, Somalians have been leaving Mogadishu over the last few months despite optimistic statements in January by our esteemed Mr. Ban. His Special Envoy to the country can't even stay there. His meeting with some Somali officials in Kenya was considered enough "progress" to issue a special press communique. Ethiopia, whose troops' involvement was hailed by Mr. Ban at the time, has enough troubles on its plate not only in Somalia but in its own region of Ogaden (composed of Somali tribes). It also has a serious demarcation conflict with Eritrea, as any U.N. official would by now realize. As to Eritrea, a former U.N. success story, U.N. troops were dismissed like naughty children -- first by withholding helicopter flights, then other logistical requirements before being sent packing.

When Mr. Ban took over, only Darfur was a burning issue, though others -- like everywhere else -- were potential clash points. Since taking over, that dysfunctional chain of faulty attempts at peacekeeping / peacemaking started widening. Even in Darfur, a catastrophic situation was comparatively stabilized by a tribal balance of terror heated up again to the point that the N.Y. Times had a recent front page story about the return of the dreaded Janja-weed. Obviously, there are forces at play in that rough neighbourhood which are way beyond U.N. control. But WHY POKE THEM? WHY TRY THROUGH ENVOYS OR DIRECTLY TO PLAY ONE PARTY AGAINST ANOTHER WHERE YOU ARE CLUELESS AND POWERLESS? YOUR ENVOYS DON'T COUNT AND CARRY NO WEIGHT WITH ANYONE EXCEPT THOSE USING THEM TO THEIR ADVANTAGE.

THE TRAGEDY IS THAT THOSE PAYING THE PRICE FOR THESE MISTAKES ARE INNOCENT PEOPLE. U.N. FIGURES SHOW THAT THREE QUARTERS OF THEM ARE WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

We have been cautioning against these expanding tragedies not only as we care for human suffering but also out of concern for the role of the U.N. and the image of its Secretary General. Once more, Mr. Ban will be well-advised to CHANGE HIS ENVOYS OR CHANGE THE APPROACH. For when, as is likely, it gets worse, governments are more capable to pin the blame on the U.N. than the other way round.