UN chief pleads for more peace-keepers: Rwanda: The resources do exist, Security Council told in letter as fresh details emerge of bureaucratic and political games

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The Independent Online
AS THE United Nations Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros- Ghali, repeated his request to the international community for peace-keepers for Rwanda, fresh details have emerged of grotesque bureaucratic and political games which prevented a UN peace-keeping force (Unamir) from being sent to Rwanda for three months.

Mr Boutros-Ghali wrote to the Security Council yesterday: 'Though two-and-a-half months have elapsed since the adoption of Resolution 918, Unamir is as far from attaining the authorised troop strength as it was at the time of the adoption of the resolution . . . I reiterate my urgent request in the strongest terms to governments to provide reinforcements for Unamir . . . I am convinced that the resources do exist. What is required is the political will in the countries around the world coalescing into a collective political will at the United Nations.'

In a clear reference to the failure of the United States to offer logistical support to the force, known as Unamir II, Mr Boutros-Ghali said the major cause of the delay had been 'the reluctance of governments possessing the required resources to make them available.'

UN officials have constantly criticised the US for delaying the operation and failing to provide air transport for it, but that criticism may have been based on a misunderstanding. The US State Department said yesterday that the US offer to fly in troops for the mission from anywhere had been made in early June and the offer still stood. A UN spokesman said he knew nothing about it until it was confirmed on Wednesday.

The next problem is that none of the seven African countries offering troops have given a deployment date and there are fears in New York that none of the forces is ready to go. Most likely to be first in are Ethiopia and Tunisia, who are sending advance parties this week. The other countries offering contingents for the 5,500- strong force are Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, Mali and Malawi.

Some of these countries have also made such exorbitant demands for their battalions that one UN source said he suspected 'they were more interesting in re-equipping their units than serving this operation'. The UN sent a delegation to six African capitals to explain the principles and practice of UN peace-keeping and refused to supply personal equipment. It also turned down a request for heavy artillery and a demand by one country for advance payment.

Unlike its predecessor, Unamir I, this force is mandated to impose peace, though it is not expected to be confronted by the genocidal murderers who roamed the country in April and May. Troops in Unamir I were not allowed to use their weapons to protect civilians, some of whom held on for protection to UN troops who watched helplessly as they were dragged off and butchered. The British contingent, although under the Unamir II mandate, is being sent for 'purely humanitarian purposes' and a Ministry of Defence spokesman would not confirm that British troops will protect civilians under threat. British troops would use their weapons for their own defence, he said. If there is no more fighting in Rwanda, Unamir's main task will be to help and offer security to those who wish to return from the camps in Zaire and Tanzania.

(Photograph omitted)