Letter: The grim nature of peacekeeping today

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The Independent Online
Sir: No one deserves the fate that befell the journalists in Mogadishu (report, 13 July), but there was a ghastly irony in the murder of Dan Eldon.

I stayed with the Eldon family in Nairobi in 1986, and Dan, then 15, asked me to drive him out to the edge of the Rift Valley, where we visited a group of impoverished Masai. They greeted him like an old friend; he gave them some money, they gave him some beaded bracelets. He told me that he made the trip every week, selling the bracelets to his schoolfriends, and returning with the money. I was struck by his quiet compassion and determination, remarkable for his age.

Looking at your touching photograph, it seems to me that Dan had not been hardened by his exposure to the world, but was motivated by that same compassion I had seen in him years before. His murderers have destroyed a capable ally, working to bring the plight of their country to the attention of the world. That they should be avenging the death of many of their countrymen caused by the dead hand of a helicopter strike speaks volumes for the nature of modern peace-keeping.

Without compassion, it looks remarkably like war.

Yours faithfully,


Myton-on-Swale, North Yorkshire

14 July