[Dateline: New York | Author: ASG for Peacekeeping Operations]
The following is a letter to the editor written by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet, published in the 9 November 2008 Sunday Regional Edition of the Washington Post.
The Nov. 3 editorial "Misery in Congo" rightly acknowledged that the 17,000-strong peacekeeping force of the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) is too small. But within its modest means, MONUC is doing everything it can to address the crisis.
MONUC forces are patrolling, holding access routes to the provincial capital of Goma and maintaining the fragile peace there. It is the only force actively contributing to the protection of the vulnerable and helping to make a difference where it matters most. However, with barely one peacekeeper for every 10,000 civilians in eastern Congo, MONUC cannot be everywhere at once. Its troops are spread thin throughout the country; moving large numbers of them would destabilize other volatile regions. This is why we have called on the international community to reinforce the mission immediately. We need the right tools if we are to succeed in the difficult days ahead.
Without the U.N. force, the situation in North Kivu would have been far worse. Without the blue U.N. helmets and U.N. expertise, Congo could not have emerged from the horrors of its brutal civil wars to hold its first national elections in half a century. U.N. peacekeeping is an imperfect instrument, but where would Congo and indeed Africa as a whole be without it?
Peacekeepers go where others can't or won't and do what others will not. This must be supported, not dismissed.