UN peacekeeping missions

Sir, – The Democratic Republic of Congo is drifting once again into increasing levels of dictatorship and violence and the UN peacekeeping forces are failing in their responsibilities to maintain peace there for a variety of reasons, including the poor quality of some of the peacekeeping forces. On December 7th, rebels killed 14 UN Tanzanian peacekeepers and wounded 53 others in North Kivu province (World News, December 8th).

On December 30th, seven people were killed by police in Kinshasa while protesting at Joseph Kabila’s refusal to vacate the presidency. Mr Kabila completed his second term in 2016 and is constitutionally debarred from serving for a third term, yet elections have been repeatedly postponed.

The Congo is one of the richest countries in the world in resources but due to abusive colonisation and exploitation and indigenous corruption its people are impoverished and continue to suffer far greater numbers of casualties than in the much more publicised conflicts in the Middle East. Good-quality peacekeepers are urgently needed in the Congo, and this is where Ireland’s main peacekeeping efforts should be focused. Irish peacekeepers should be withdrawn in particular from the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights where all they are achieving is protecting Israeli occupation. It may also be time for Ireland to consider winding down its commitments to Unifil in Lebanon, so as to focus more on African conflicts where they are most needed. – Yours, etc,