Human Rights Watch warns that a three-way war between Hutus, Tutsis, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo forces will erupt soon, unless the UN intervenes to avoid the catastrophe. Unfortunately for the people of the DRC, the UN has already intervened:
All sides in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo are guilty of murder, rape and forcing children to fight, Human Rights Watch says.
The New York-based human rights group says the UN has been slow to react to the worsening crisis in the east which is developing into a Hutu-Tutsi war.
The Congolese army has threatened an all-out offensive against both Tutsi and Hutu militias in the region.
This conflict follows directly from the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The Hutus fled into the DRC after the massacres, and have tried to establish ties with the government for their own protection. The Hutus, authors of the Rwandan genocide and who fled the revenge of the Tutsis, have come into conflict with the Tutsis again. The Tutsis and accuse the DRC of being the paid agents of the Hutus. The Tutsis want to tangle again, and the DRC apparently wants all of them to leave.
It sounds like another great opportunity for the international community to intervene. In fact, the opportunity arrived eight years ago. The UN established the MONUC mission in 1999, which has had its mandate extended several times, including at least once this year. As far back as 2004, MONUC had a mandate to disarm foreign militias, but that has obviously not been done. The 11,000-member MONUC force has done little but act as observers as the situation has deteriorated.
Sound familiar? It is exactly what happened with the UNIFIL force in Lebanon -- twice. Even after the UNIFIL forces showed how inept they had been in keeping heavy munitions out of the hands of Hezbollah in the 2006 war, the UN decided to go back to the UNIFIL model -- and Hezbollah rearmed itself within months under the UN's collective nose.
The UN has proven it intervention valueless. The UN will not engage in the kind of action that would result in disarming combatants, which means that their only value lies in acting as sitting ducks, whose deaths might -- might -- provoke a reaction from a nation with the will to actually conduct military operations. Unfortunately, these sitting ducks have a terrible track record for abusing the local populace, especially in Africa, which makes them almost as unpopular as those who they supposedly must disarm, if not more so.
It comes as no surprise that another UN intervention will soon collapse. When will we finally note the successive failures and realize that putting blue helmets on a group of men who will take no action does nothing to advance the cause of peace?
UPDATE: I had the Hutus and Tutsis reversed in the Rwandan genocide. Thanks to the several commenters who noted this, and I apologize for the error.