Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joint Mission Analysis....

The most useless UN document ever? (download it!)

October 13, 2008 Richard Gowan More on
Asia, Conflict and security, Off topic, Terrorism

I have read some useless UN documents in my time. Few, if any, match “The Crocodile Threat in Timor-Leste”, prepared by the Joint Mission Analysis Cell (the UN intelligence unit) in Dili. This 1,400-word document (”not a definitive report on the subject”) was drawn up in September but is unavailable to the public. This is a pity, as while parts of it (”Legend of East Timor: Crocodile Story”) have been cut-and-paste from the Lonely Planet, it contains some - er - explosive prose…

The larger the animal grows, the greater the variety of animals it includes in its diet. Capable of explosive bursts of speed when launching an attack from the water, many species of crocodile are also capable of fast land-movement. Many crocodiles are capable of explosive charges that can carry them nearly as fast as a running human.

That’s got me, and presumably a whole lot of UN staffers, worried. What to do?

There is a sensitive flap in a crocodile’s throat, known as the glottis, which they use for breathing. As a result, as with some other predators, forcing the arm into the throat may encourage release, although this is not certain by any means and may instead lead to the arm being severed.

Any less risky options available?

The eyes of a crocodile are weak sensitive areas, with several attacks on humans being foiled by poking and gauging (sic) the eyes.

Right, I’m not convinced by that one either. The use of force basically looks like non-starter. But fear not, the UN has an answer: monitor the situation!

There is a real danger for UNMIT personnel swimming in waters around Timor-Leste of being attacked by a crocodile. Fatal attacks on humans have and continue to occur in the waters of Timor-Leste. Some areas are more risky than others, but all areas have the potential for crocodiles to be present. Crocodiles are just as likely to be present in clear water as in murky water. Due to the stealthy nature of the crocodile, visual sightings of a crocodile may not occur prior to an attack. All personnel engaging in swimming in the ocean and positioned close to the waters edge, especially at night, should be aware of the risk of crocodiles and always maintain constant vigilance.

Yep, read those last two lines over again and put them into English: you won’t see the crocodile coming, but you should watch out for it anyway! Pure, pure UN…