UN intervention force raises hopes in DRC

2013-07-05 12:36
M23 rebels withdraw from the eastern Congo town of Goma. (File, AP)

M23 rebels withdraw from the eastern Congo town of Goma. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Goma - A heavily armed brigade of UN troops with more power to fight renegade forces than ever before has received a cautious welcome in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region ravaged for decades by conflict.

"We want the brigade to intervene. Each time our government has negotiated with rebel forces, new ones have appeared," said Ester Kamate, a pharmacist in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

"We don't believe in Kampala," she added, referring to the Ugandan capital where stalled peace talks have been taking place.

"This time, we must hunt them down."

The UN Security Council decided on 28 March to set up the intervention force of around 3 000 soldiers who are currently gathering on the ground.

Troops drawn in equal numbers from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania will join about 17 000 UN soldiers already deployed in the area with a limited mandate to protect civilians and themselves only.

Residents under threat

The new UN force is tasked with carrying out offensive operations, either alone or jointly with the Congolese armed forces, "in a robust, highly mobile and versatile manner" to disrupt armed groups and disarm their fighters.

Residents of Goma, next to the border with Rwanda, are threatened by M23 fighters camped nearby, who comprise the main resistance force operating in eastern Congo, along with Hutu rebels from Rwanda and vestiges of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

M23 rebels captured Goma on 20 November last year, holding it for 10 days. They left only when leaders from the Great Lakes nations of central Africa promised fresh negotiations, opening the Kampala talks.

M23 consists mainly of ex-rebels who were integrated into the army in 2009 but mutinied in 2012, claiming the government had broken promises made to persuade them to join its ranks. Kinshasa and the United Nations have accused neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda of backing the movement - a charge both countries deny.

The same UN resolution that gave the brigade the green light condemned M23, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the LRA "and all other armed groups and their continuing violence and abuses of human rights".

In all, about 30 armed groups are active in the region, where they have lucrative stakes in the illegal mining of diamonds, gold and coltan, which is used in high-tech manufacturing and the production of mobile phones. These minerals are then exported around the world via neighbouring Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

Frustration, animosity

The duties of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in Congo (Monusco) have up to now been limited to protection, which has largely prevented the troops from acting alongside the regular army (FARDC).

The UN force's previously limited mandate has led to frustration and animosity from many residents.

"Where I come from, in the Masisi, I settled down close to Monusco troops. They were there, but they did nothing to prevent the massacre of civilians...," said Kahindi Noodle, aged 48, living in a camp for displaced people west of Goma.

"The brigade will change nothing," he added.

The stakes are high for the United Nations, which has maintained a presence in the DRC for 15 years through two devastating wars and constant conflict in the east, using military tactics based on interposition between rival forces rather than intervention.

Part of the new UN contingent has begun to patrol Goma and the strategic route between the city and Sake, a town about 20km away, where the force will be based.

Hope for change


The patrols have a dual objective: To enable soldiers to become familiar with the terrain and to reassure an impatient population.

"The brigade must make a show of force to wipe out M23. I am confident," said Theobald Buswagire, a resident of Goma's Ndosho district, where a shell killed a child in May during clashes between M23 and the army.

"When I saw the brigade, I told myself there was going to be a change. I saw their ammunition and it's good ammunition," he added, nodding hard.

But asked about the Kampala talks on his first visit to eastern DR Congo, the new commander of Monusco, Brazilian General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, stressed that a political solution was "extremely important".

"Everybody knows that the solution is political.... The military element remains totally synchronised with the political process," he said.

The general stressed that the UN force will use "all means possible" to prevent atrocities against civilians. "It is important to remember that we have a very clear mandate and that the priority is still the protection of civilians", he said.

Read more on:    un  |  m23  |  drc  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.