Darfur should not be a Roman arena

The favourite sport of the Romans in ancient times was blood sports. Gladiators would be pitted against each other and they would fight to the death.

The favourite sport of the Romans in ancient times was blood sports. Gladiators would be pitted against each other and they would fight to the death.

The gladiators were the lucky ones among those thrown into the arena to amuse decadent Rome. The unlucky ones were the slaves and those who fell foul of the law or displeasure of the Caesar; they were simply thrown bare-handed to a couple of hungry lions which ripped them apart to sounds of applause from the terraces.

The recent tragic deaths of five Rwandan peacekeepers and two of their colleagues from Uganda and Ghana goes in the same vein as the victims of the lions.

The only difference is that the soldiers were not in Darfur to entertain the Sudanese refugees, but to restore their security, hope and smiles on their faces.

This incident should open the eyes of the international community and shake it from its stupor. Time and again it has been said that the peacekeepers needed to be better equipped to meet the challenges that many countries have shied away from or simply ignored.

This is a region where the personal toy of the numerous factions is either a heavy machinegun or an anti-aircraft gun, which they will not hesitate to try out on lesser armed Blue helmets by taking pot-shots at them.

Our boys and girls in uniform have proven countless times that they can hold their own when they face dire straits, but their playing fields were not dictated by onlookers on the sidelines, neither were they in a Roman arena.

Darfur or any other trouble spots should not be a lions’ den where hapless peacekeepers are thrown; at least give them a fighting chance - after all they are laying their lives on the ground in the name of peace.

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