Congo: With No Peace To Keep, Peacekeepers Told To Leave

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

September 2, 2010: UN investigators have accused a group of rebels of gang rape. Members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) committed the crime in late July in a small village in North Kivu province (eastern Congo). At least 200 FDLR rebels participated in a series of night-long assaults on women in the village. The same group is suspected of attacking and plundering other villages in the area. An investigator with a non-governmental organization operating in the province called it a systematic rape of the population. Gang rape is, unfortunately, common in the eastern Congo. Congolese Army forces and some UN peacekeepers serving in eastern Congo have also been accused of rape.

August 21, 2010: The government demanded earlier this year that UN peacekeepers prepare to withdraw the peacekeeping force by sometime next year. In June the UN withdrew about 1,700 troops. Right now about 20,000 peacekeepers serve with UN Organization and Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO). The government, however, wants the UN to keep it supplied with aid money for humanitarian and relief work. This year the UN budgeted over $800 million for relief work in the Congo. A recent UN report, however, said that so far donors have only supplied $400 million. The global recession may be one reason, but aid organizations say the instability in the eastern Congo makes relief operations necessary but also very risky

August 20, 2010: The Congolese military reported that it had arrested two men suspected of killing three Indian soldiers serving with UN peacekeeping forces. On August 18 the Indian soldiers were hacked to death with machetes by a force of some 60 militiamen. A Mai-Mai militia had attacked the Indian soldiers' base camp near the town of Kirumba (North Kivu province) the day before. One of the killers allegedly said he had received orders to go back to the base camp and kill Indian soldiers. The charge of murder may stick because the peacekeepers thought they were assisting a small group of men who claimed they were in trouble. The 60 militiamen then surrounded the soldiers and hacked them to death. They were not given a chance to surrender. A UN spokesman called the killings a criminal act.

August 12, 2010: The UN promised to combat a resurgence of Lord's Resistance Army activity in Orientale province (northeastern Congo). Civilians in the province have been complaining for almost three years of LRA depredations. The LRA is reportedly building a new base camp in the Bas Uele region in the northeast. MONUSCO has one peacekeeping installation in the area, in the town of Dingila. However, that installation is scheduled for closure as the UN begins withdrawing troops from the region.

August 10, 2010: The UN now has 150 Guatemalan special forces troops deployed in Equateur province.

August 9, 2010: Non-governmental aid organizations operating in South and North Kivu province claim that the CNDP is once again acting like a rebel militia. CNDP officers and militiamen were supposed to be integrated into the Congolese Army. Some were, but a number of the officers claimed they were not given appropriate positions. A few officers claimed they had been promised government jobs. One aid group claims that the CNDP is still in the illegal minerals business and has connections to a coltan mining operation. This may be tough to prove in court, but the illegal mineral trade in east Africa continues to boom. Someone is making money.

August 7, 2010: Goodbye MONUC. The UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) has changed its name. It is now the UN Organization and Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO). That became official in July. Why the name change? The Congolese government wants the UN peacekeepers to leave. So the peacekeepers are now a stabilization force, stabilizing the country so they can withdraw. The eastern Congo has no peace and very little stability. It does not make a lot of sense, does it?

 

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