Sunday, 25 May 2008

UNDOFOR - United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Rhönland

We're supposedly in Rhönland a country where ethnic and religious minorities have been increasingly suppressed over the past few years. The economic gap between the rich industrialized South and the predominantly agricultural North is growing and exacerbating ethnic tensions. North Rhönland is seeking independence... sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?

Three months ago the government of Rhönland was overthrown by extremists which lead to protests and violent clashes. North Rhönland declared independence and was soon invaded by South Rhönland. Paramilitary groups and the official troops of North Rhönland are now fighting the Southern invaders. That's just the very beginning of our scenario... like in the real world, it gets more complicated.

Of course what's a real crisis region without the UN? There's UN SC Resolution 1203 calling for an end to the violence and for democratic elections. A failed UN embargo. Only the recent threat of military sanctions got the warring factions to the negotiating table. They agreed to a truce and an AOS - Area of Separation - a buffer zone patrolled by UN observers and Peacekeepers. UNDOFOR we understand has been deployed for the past 10 days. And the International Police Task Force (IPTF) is in charge of restructuring, training and controlling Rhönland's police force. You're still with me?

I guess I'm at this stage mainly concerned about who will be shooting at me tomorrow... Here's the intelligence I've gathered:

SDF: the South Rhönland Defence Force - red crosses, red flags;

RGLR: the Regular Guard for the Liberation of Rhönland - green crosses, yellow flags, olive green uniforms;

NAFROS: the National Front of Southern Rhönland - one of several paramilitary groups in the South

RAFN: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of North Rhönland - one of several paramilitary groups in the North

Other players include numerous other armed paramilitary groups, bandits and village militias.

Our task as journalists is to report about the activities of UNDOFOR and the military observers, and about the humanitarian situation in Rhönland. We're accredited with the UN and both sides of the conflict. We have freedom of movement across the whole country, including the AOS. Great! But what do you do if the whole country is mined?


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