The Uruguayan Blue Helmets

By Dialogo
January 11, 2011

A group of Uruguayan military personnel under United Nations (UN) command is patrolling a remote area in northern Congo, where a civilian population, around 30,000 people from the town of Ango, has been threatened with death by a guerrilla group seeking to establish a Christian theocratic state in that African country.

The group is the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a violent organization that has already committed a number of crimes, Voice of America was told by the Army Command in Uruguay.

LRA attacks in 2008 and 2009 took a toll of a thousand civilians murdered and around twenty thousand children kidnapped in order to train them for war.

The Uruguayan Army has orders to protect the population of Ango, Col. Mario Stevenazzi, the Army’s head of communications, told Voice of America.

The thirty-five Uruguayan military personnel and a Congolese translator patrol the jungle and are equipped with machine guns and rocket launchers.

At present, they have not had to engage in combat, but the threat of attack remains, Stevenazzi said.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is located in central Africa and has a land area one-fourth that of the United States.

The UN is studying whether to establish a fixed post in the area of Ango, on the border with Sudan.