(image via BBC)
The U.N. has again come under fire after recent reports detail the performance of peacekeepers in South Sudan, a country that has been embedded in a civil war for three years. According to the reports, South Sudanese troops entered a hotel and began attacking civilians, a vast number of which were Western aid workers. The U.N. peacekeepers, who were stationed less than a mile away, made no response to the pleas for help. The South Sudanese forces proceeded to kill and incite sexual violence against those in the hotel, including five United Nations staff members and over a dozen humanitarian relief workers. The victims had to be rescued by a private security company the following morning. The commander of the U.N. force in South Sudan was fired following the attack, but will a new commander be able to unify a system that has proven over and over that it is broken?
This attack is just another tragic mark on the heavily tarnished reputation of peacekeepers globally. The peacekeeping force in South Sudan comprised troops from China, Ethiopia, Nepal, and India. Like other forces in Haiti and the Congo, the lack of unification among the troops leads not only to conflicting orders, but complete abandonment of posts by the peacekeepers. A month after the attack on the hotel in Juba, the United Nations Security Council ordered thousands of additional troops to South Sudan, putting the mission at over 12,000 peacekeepers. Will this make any difference? The lack of unification and leadership in peacekeeping missions, and the obvious knowledge of their lack of power, seems to eradicate any potential influence that they could have in conflict-ridden countries like South Sudan.
(Read the full story on the New York Times website)