Subject:  Why US Soldiers Should NEVER Rely on the UN
Here is a sickening story of UN incompetence and cowardice.
The UN took 2 officers, who did not speak the local languages, and dropped
them off in bad section of the Congo.
The two were not told what the UN expected of them... they had no mission,
no weapons, and no support.
When they got death threats, they radioed for help and begged to be pulled
out, for 6 days.
The UN had helicopters, which could have gotten them out in 35 minutes, but
The helicopter pilots "were afraid", and the UN's own rules slowed things
10 days after their first call for help, the UN showed up... to retrieve
their mutilated bodies.
A UN spokesman, apparently a French officer, says the UN is not to blame!
This incident, along with their proven track record of incompetence, is
proof why US soldiers should NEVER be put in a position where they have to
rely on the UN for support. Obviously, US soldiers should NEVER be put
under command of the UN.
Randy Givens
Posted on Sun, Jun. 15, 2003
Pleas for help, then death for U.N. workers
Their mutilated bodies were found in Congo. For days, they had begged to be
By Sudarsan Raghavan
Inquirer Staff Writer
BUNIA, Congo - For six days, two terrified U.N. military observers phoned
their superiors - as many as four times a day - begging to be evacuated from
their remote outpost in northeastern Congo.
They were receiving death threats, they said. They were alone and unarmed in
Mongbwalu, a town ruled by the Lendu tribal militias, notorious for
cannibalism. A U.N. helicopter from the city of Bunia could have retrieved
them in 35 minutes.
But the United Nations, handcuffed by rules and bureaucracy, didn't send a
chopper. On May 18, 10 days after the two peacekeepers made their first
call, the United Nations finally flew armed peacekeepers to Mongbwalu.
They found the mutilated bodies of Maj. Safwat al Oran, 37, of Jordan, and
Capt. Siddon Davis Banda, 29, of Malawi.
Their corpses had been tossed into a canal and covered with dirt, according
to those who saw the bodies. They were shot in the eyes. Their stomachs were
split open and their hearts and livers were missing. One man's brain was
The killings laid bare the challenge of bringing peace to a complex and
resilient war and exposed the limits of U.N. efforts to do so.
The U.N. mission in Congo has been criticized by many, including some in its
own rank and file, for being disorganized and naive. Now, its critics say,
it is partly responsible for the deaths of the two observers.
"Why didn't they rescue them? They had armed troops here who could have
saved them," said one U.N. observer in Bunia, who spoke on condition of
anonymity. "They killed them."
Col. Daniel Vollot, the U.N. Congo mission's sector commander in Bunia, said
that all U.N. employees here worked in dangerous, unpredictable conditions
and that the U.N. mission was not responsible for the deaths of Banda and
"We can't feel guilty," Vollot said. "Certainly, if we had arrived two or
three days before, they would be alive. It's difficult, but I don't feel
guilty about that."
The murders were a serious setback to U.N. operations in Congo's Ituri
province, where about 50,000 people have died in fighting between Hema and
Lendu tribal armies since 1999. After the killings, the United Nations
pulled out all its military observers and sent them to Bunia, Ituri's
largest city, with a population of about 200,000.
Details of the killings in Mongbwalu - one of the most horrific acts of
violence against U.N. employees in the international body's 58-year
history - are still emerging. The United Nations is investigating what
But in separate interviews, five U.N. military observers with knowledge of
what happened to Oran and Banda said their killings could have been avoided.
In fact, they said, only luck prevented tribal fighters from butchering more
helpless military observers trapped in other remote areas.
All five spoke on condition of anonymity because they worried about the
repercussions they could face from the United Nations and their own
Vollot acknowledged that Oran and Banda for several days had asked U.N.
officials in Kisangani to be pulled out of Mongbwalu.
When asked why U.N. troops were not sent to pick up the two observers,
Vollot said his command's Russian-made Mi-26 helicopters were piloted by
civilians. The Russian and Ukrainian pilots were afraid to fly there, and
the United Nations did not want to put their lives at risk, Vollot said.
And under U.N. rules, the ruling Lendu militia had to give permission to
land a helicopter in Mongbwalu. It also was unclear which Lendu militia was
in charge of the town, he said.
So his soldiers had to wait for clearance from the Lendu chief, and only the
U.N. mission's headquarters in Kinshasa, the capital, could authorize a
rescue operation.
"These are the rules of the United Nations," Vollot said.
The question in many minds is this: Why were the observers sent in the first
For years, Mongbwalu was a volatile, violent place in the most volatile,
violent province of Congo. Six Red Cross workers were murdered in Ituri in
Neither Oran nor Banda spoke French, Swahili, or any local language. There
were no armed U.N. peacekeepers in the area, and the observers were sent
with no weapons.
"They were so at risk. It was not prudent for two [military observers] to be
sent with no force protection to a place which was known to be violent for
years," said Nigel Pearson, the medical coordinator in Bunia for Medair, a
relief agency. "It was naive of [the U.N.'s Congo mission]. They weren't
fully aware of the complexities of the situation."
The U.N. military observers agree. Several were sent in teams of four to
other remote parts of Ituri at the same time as Oran and Banda in April.
They were urged to go quickly with little preparation, they said. And after
they arrived, they received little attention from mission officials, they
"After we got there, they forgot us," said another U.N. military observer.
"Nobody told us what we had to do there. I didn't even know which group was
Hema and which was Lendu."
At the time, the U.N. mission needed to have a strong presence in Ituri, the
observers said. The Ugandan army, which occupied the province, was leaving
in accordance with a multinational peace pact. The mission was expected to
fill the security vacuum.
"The U.N. was very pressured to find a solution to the Congo war," a U.N.
military observer said. "They sent observers too soon to a situation where
we can't do our work."
The last telephone call from Oran and Banda was on May 13, the day the
United Nations believes they were killed.
"Everyone is to blame, starting from the guy who planned the operation,"
said one of the U.N. military observers.
On Wednesday, the U.N. mission in Congo held a memorial service for Oran and
Banda in Kinshasa. Senior representatives of all 15 members of the U.N.
Security Council, who are here on a fact-finding mission, attended the
Contact staff writer Sudarsan Raghavan at
NOTE: A follow up article, saying the UN will "investigate the deaths" is