Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Scours for More Blue Helmets Member States Balk at Sending Troops into Turbulence of Rwandan Refugee Camps in Zaire

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

UN Scours for More Blue Helmets Member States Balk at Sending Troops into Turbulence of Rwandan Refugee Camps in Zaire

Article excerpt

THE United Nations is beginning a search for up to 18,000 new peacekeepers.

UN officials expect no trouble in recruiting 7,000 more troops for Angola, where a new joint peace accord was recently signed, or in finding 6,000 UN troops to replace US forces in Haiti when the climate is deemed stable.

The most difficult job will be to find the 3,000 to 5,000 troops needed for the more dangerous task of improving security in Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire.

{The situation took a more violent turn last Friday, according to Reuters, when clashes erupted in several camps. Truckloads of Zairean government troops moved into the camps Saturday.

Helicopters and ground parties also scoured the camps and surrounding bushland in eastern Zaire for a British aid worker and four local staff members who vanished in the violence Friday, according to aid workers.}

Former Rwandan Hutu soldiers and militias now control the distribution of most relief supplies in the camps. By threats and misinformation they have kept hundreds of thousands of refugees there from returning home. Well-stocked with equipment, arms, and food, the former Rwandan leaders are said to be gearing up for a renewed civil war in Rwanda.

The UN Security Council is expected early this week to approve UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's request for a small UN force to move slowly from camp to camp in Zaire. The troops would establish secure zones within each camp, take back control of humanitarian aid, and share factual data that may encourage refugees to go home.

In his new report to the Council, Mr. Boutros-Ghali says that 10,000 to 12,000 peacekeepers would be needed for the much riskier job of actually disarming and separating former Rwandan military and political leaders from ordinary refugees. He concedes that both groups would be likely to resist any such efforts.

He concludes that the smaller force with more limited goals is the "realistic" option. "It's what his professional staff thinks can be done," a UN official explains. Reluctant nations

Yet even recruiting the smaller force will not be easy. The UN had a difficult time assembling a Rwandan peacekeeeping force of 5,500 authorized by the Council last May. "These are essentially paper documents because the bottom line is that member states just don't want to expose their troops to this kind of potentially dangerous situation," says Michael Barnett, a peacekeeping expert at the University of Wisconsin.

"I think expanding the peacekeeping force for Rwanda is going to be a tough sell," agrees Thomas Sheehy, an Africa expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. …

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