Magazine article New Internationalist

We Did Nothing: Why the Truth Doesn't Always Come out When the UN Goes In

Magazine article New Internationalist

We Did Nothing: Why the Truth Doesn't Always Come out When the UN Goes In

Article excerpt

(Penguin, ISBN 0-670-91424-X)

Once you get past the initial infuriating jigsaw of a beginning, Dutch journalist Polman provides an all too rare on-the-ground account of several UN peacekeeping missions conducted during the 1990s which is full of strong, well-observed and engaging reportage.

In 1994 she hangs out with the troops and the privateers in the sprawling temporary human settlement that is the UN compound in Mogadishu, Somalia after the US pulled its troops out. In Haiti she witnesses the devastating effect of sanctions on the poor while socializing with the rich elite, the American `invasion' to reinstall an emasculated President Aristide, and visits the US Special Forces commander ruling the countryside with fear.

But the book's piece de resistance is the story of the seige in Kibeho, Rwanda in 1995: 30 pages of utterly appalling testimony of the revenge killings of thousands of Hutu civilians (Polman reckons 150,000) by troops of the newly installed Tutsi Government. …

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