Thursday, May 24, 2007

More UN Corruption

Anyone who thinks UN 'peacekeeping' operations are anything other than a chance for criminals to go about their business, should read the following article. If you don't believe me you should research corruption, sex crime, human trafficking, and other acts by UN 'peace keepers'. See the last paragraph below, the emphasis is mine.

here's the story ...
A new scandal rocked the biggest United Nations peacekeeping force in the world Wednesday as allegations surfaced that Pakistani 'blue helmets' in the Democratic Republic of Congo had traded weapons for gold with rebel groups they were supposed to be disarming.

Human rights groups in the sprawling central African nation say Pakistani officers serving in the 17,600-strong force were involved in the illegal smuggling of up to $5 million US in gold from the trouble-plagued northeastern Ituri region. They add the shady dealing saw weapons returned to rebels of the Front of Nationalists and Integrationalists (FNI), said by the Congolese government to be responsible for war crimes during Congo's long-running conflict.

Pakistan has rejected the allegations as "malicious and distorted," but adds it has launched an investigation, saying it knew nothing of the allegations before Tuesday.

It's additionally alleged that when UN officials began to investigate, the Pakistani force switched from initially being co-operative to being threatening.

Acknowledging that the probe hadn't been smooth sailing, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas spoke Wednesday of the "very difficult circumstances" faced by the seven UN investigators assigned to the case.

According to some reports from the country, Pakistani soldiers reacted to the UN's attempt to seize a computer containing apparently incriminating information by laying barbed wire around UN police guarding the investigators.

The Pakistanis also dispatched two armoured personnel carriers to the investigators' living quarters.

The allegations refer to events in late 2005, but even though the UN denies rebels were re-armed, it admits it has yet to complete the investigation into the dealing.

In late 2005, Pakistani UN forces were stationed in the Ituri mining town of Mongbwalu as fighting between ethnic militias still raged.

It's alleged Pakistani soldiers colluded with both the local armed groups and Indian businessmen from Kenya to obtain gold.

"We have very solid information," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher with U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.

Woudenberg and other HRW researchers briefed UN peacekeeping officials Wednesday on the evidence they say they have that Pakistani officers helped arrange for between $2 million US and $5 million US in gold to be smuggled from Ituri.

Charges the Pakistanis returned weapons to the FNI rebels come from the Congolese human rights group Justice Peace.

"There was cooperation between the Pakistanis and the FNI," said Joel Bisubu, a researcher with the group.

"The first draft of the report was produced at the end of March and it is currently going through the final stages of a very rigorous, due-diligence, and quality assurance process," said Montas.

"It is expected to be finalized in about three weeks."

The slow pace of the probe has led to charges of a coverup, with the BBC reporting from DRC that initial findings were buried to "avoid a political fallout."

Because Pakistan rotates its troop deployments every six months, the battalion allegedly involved in the gold-for-arms trading is no longer in DRC.

The Congo mission has served as a test of how effective huge blue-helmet deployments can be as the world body's peacekeeping operations reach record levels around the world, with more than 100,000 soldiers serving in some 15 missions.

But while the force led the war-torn country to historic elections last year, the latest scandal follows a series of others.

One of the more infamous was 2004 revelations UN personnel had been involved in sexual exploitation of local girls and women, including rape and pedophilia.

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