Editorial: R2P and UN workers
While the United Nations routinely invokes its responsibility to protect — often referred to as R2P — to justify international interventions to protect civilians on humanitarian grounds, like what is currently happening in Libya, whose job is it to protect UN staffers on the ground?
Seven UN workers in the Afghan town of Mazar-e Sharif died Friday at the hands of an angry mob, which had been incited by reports of the burning of a Koran in the United States two weeks earlier. Four Afghans were killed in the incident. On Saturday, another violent protest occurred over the same issue elsewhere in the country, leading to 10 more Afghan deaths.
Any senseless death is tragic, even in world trouble spots like Afghanistan. But the death of UN staffers is a double tragedy because it clearly jeopardizes the work of the international agency to help restore peace in that country.
We salute the UN for its decision to continue its good work in Afghanistan in spite of the tragedy, but we also appeal to the host country to do more to protect the safety of all UN workers so they can finish their jobs.
It is easy to blame the violence on the Florida pastor who burned a copy of the Koran on March 20. While that pastor may have been the source of the provocation, the Afghan government owes the world a thorough investigation into how the mob in Mazar-e Sharif could have amassed and gone on a killing spree.
As the town had been considered one of the most peaceful in Afghanistan, allegations of infiltration by the Taliban should be seriously looked into.
The rest of the Islamic world, including Indonesia, has been right in dismissing the March 20 Koran burning as an act of provocation. But it is puzzling that a violent reaction occurred in a town in Afghanistan targeting the UN. Someone or some organization in Afghanistan was certainly scheming, and found in the Florida Koran burning a perfect excuse to deploy a mob.
Nevertheless, the Dove World Outreach Center in Florida, which organized the event, should not be spared from international condemnation for the bigotry that led to the unnecessary deaths of so many people, including UN staffers. The church should consider itself lucky that no Americans were among the dead on Friday. If there were, church members would likely have to face the wrath of their fellow Americans.
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