Our drive to Nyankunde was made interesting as we caught up to a UN convoy of six troop carriers filled with soldiers in battle helmets. They are usually in blue berets. They stopped and jumped out at some local roadside houses, brandishing their guns straight ahead instead of the customary downwards and were all looking worried. It was probably a moment to take pictures when they couldn’t be bothered with us.

Behind a UN troop carrier

Behind a UN troop carrier (one of six) about to stop and make a raid

UN soldier involved with a raid (in centre of photo)

UN soldier involved with a raid (in centre of photo) with bystanders watching intently

Dr Philip Wood heard that four days ago, militia from NURL (National Ugandan Liberation Army) attacked a Congo army outpost near the road from Beni to Butembo in order to capture guns. Maybe this morning’s UN efforts were a counter seizure effort (we are roughly 120 km further north), but we have no idea.

When rebel militia returned to Nyankunde in 2008, a UN base was only 4 km away and in fact had been established there to be close to Nyankunde after the 2002 massacre. When asked for help, the local UN commander professed ignorance on where Nyankunde even was (straight down the road) and refused to send help (Rwanda anyone?). They only half heartedly acted when told that one of the CME Nyankunde staff was a Japanese citizen by sending enough vehicles to take out foreigners, but the Congolese (who were the ones being threatened on a tribal basis) were left to their own devices.

To watch the UN potentially being proactive was quite the surprise.