Three Filipino peacekeepersÂ serving with the UN in Haiti were injured during a student riot on Sunday.The students were protesting the failure of the UN to keep the peace, and protesting raids on slums where the students claimed the peacekeepers had injured civilians.
MINUSTAHÂ has been in Haiti since July 1994, and includes 8000 peacekeepers, including 200 Filipino police and army personnel.
Haiti is not the only country seeing peacekeepers from the Philippines: Pinoys also serve with the UN in Haiti, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Liberia, Sudan, and East Timor. Cynics claim the government is supplying “rent a soldier” for money, but most Pinoys are proud of them. You see, the Philippines has a long history of not only peacekeeping, but of supplying civilian relief workers to countries in need.
The UK Independent reports that the security situation in Haiti had been improving due to the peacekeepers. Alas, the political corruption and killings by both sides have prevented economic recovery, lack of security have hampered infrastructure development, and an upsurge of kidnappings during the last last two months have not helped the situation.
The Philippine soldiers were hurt when a student demonstration protesting the presence of the UN were shot upon by a private security guard. The students then turned against the passing patrol, injuring the soldiers.
Blaming the US and now the UN for the situation in Haiti is a routine complaint on left wing web sites like this one , which writes of UN tanks firing on innocent peaceful demonstrators because….well, just because UN peacekeepers are meanhearted evil beings, I guess.Â Or this one , about a UN raid trying to arrest the leader of one murderous gang, deliberately killed innocent people in the slums including “a man brushing his teeth”, or “going to work in a flower market” and another “getting money for his wife’s medical care”.
And the purple prose doesn’t stop there. Dread Wilme, one of the gang leaders whose war with a rival gang was causing most of the violence in that slum, is now called a “crucified martyr”. His own murders are unmentioned, of course, while civilians caught in the crossfire are used as an excuse to villify the peacekeepers .
For the UN and the US, it is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. If troops are there, they are blamed for both not stopping the violence; if they try to defend themselves from murderous criminals, they are blamed for killing “innocent civilians”, but if there are no outside troops, then there are cries someone has to do something to stop the violence.
Of course, reading through the lines of propaganda from both sides is a bit easier if one has worked in several countries where the poor resent the rich and so identify with criminals posing as liberators.
Invariably the left will amplify the Government (or as in Haiti, the UN peacekeepers’) operations as genocide while ignoring the murders by the criminals associated with their own ideology. Yet without a strong government response against criminal gangs who are willing to kill and terrify for gain, you end up with anarchy such as one sees in Dafur, Iraq, East Timor, Sulawesi, and a dozen other chaotic countries.
So let us thank the Philipinos and other UN peacekeepers who volunteered to try to protect the Haitians. And when we read overblown politicized rhetoric against those just doing their best to protect the innocent, just remember thatÂ Adlai Stevenson once wryly remarked: “Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they catch hell from both sides”.
————————–Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband, six dogs, three cats, and a large extended family. Her web page is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket