Submit this form
Home News Videos Music Photos Facebook Twitter Friends Newsletter Podcasts Mobile RSS
UN forces, army adopt new directives with civilian protection at core

UN News - December 16, 2009
Soldats congolais des FARDC

United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the national army adopted new directives today for operations against rebels with the protection of civilians as the core focus following reports of massacres and other serious human rights violations by Congolese soldiers.

Announcing the new directives to the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Alan Doss highlighted the dilemma faced by the UN Mission in DRC, known as MONUC, which is mandated to “give the highest priority” to protecting civilians, while at the same time working with the national army, which includes elements responsible for human rights abuses, in fighting rebels in the east of the vast country.

“There is no easy answer to this dilemma and we are looking towards the Council for clear guidance in this respect,” he said, presenting Mr. Ban’s latest report on the DRC, which calls for a six-month extension of MONUC, one of the UN’s largest operations with nearly 20,000 uniformed personnel, until 30 June.

Asked at a news conference on Monday about reports that 1,400 civilians had been killed by Congolese or Rwandan troops and by rebels as a result of the so-called Kimia II military operations launched with MONUC’s support, Mr. Ban said the mission had suspended logistical or other support for units of the Congolese National Armed Forces (FARDC) when there were sufficient grounds to believe their operations would violate human rights.

Underscoring the dilemma, an independent UN human rights expert today named two FARDC commanders, Innocent Zimurinda and Bosco Ntaganda, who remain in the their posts, as facing serious accusations of human rights violations.

“It is a contradiction of basic UN principles for UN peacekeepers to cooperate with a military operation led by individuals who stand accused of war crimes and grave human rights abuses,” UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston said in a news release.

Mr. Alston, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, added that while action against the mainly Rwandan Hutu rebel group FDLR in eastern DRC was necessary, the manner in which Kimia II it has been carried out has been “absolutely catastrophic” for civilians.

“There has been insufficient planning for civilian protection, and civilians have been raped to death and massacred in revenge attacks by the rebels. Shockingly, civilians have also been gang-raped and hacked or shot to death by the Congolese army, the very force that is supposed to protect them,” he stressed.

It is to address these problems that Mr. Doss announced the new directives today, with Kimia II ending by 31 December. “The FARDC and MONUC will now concentrate on holding ground recovered from the FDLR and preventing attacks on civilians in areas of vulnerability, while undertaking focused interventions against any centres of command and control where the FDLR may have regrouped,” he said. “Protection of civilians has to be at the core of these operations.”

He later told reporters that it was important to have the FARDC stabilized in some areas “with our support and our presence. So I would expect there would be fewer operations conducted, but we’ve still kept open the possibility of targeted operations if we see the FDLR regrouping and attempting to strike or recover or conduct reprisals.”

MONUC aided Kimia II with helicopter lifts, medical evacuation, fuel and rations, as well as firepower support to FARDC to keep FDLR from reclaiming areas previously under its control.

He noted that human rights violations were rife in North and South Kivu provinces. “Sexual violence continues unchecked. Armed groups together with uncontrolled elements of the FARDC are responsible for most of these violations,” he said.

Kimia II’s goal of ending FDLR’s control of population centres and weakening its ability to exploit the country’s natural resources such as gold and cassiterite “has been largely achieved, although we do recognize there have been very serious humanitarian consequences,” he added.

He reiterated the need to dismantle the international and expatriate networks behind the minerals and arms smuggling in the eastern provinces, which have continued to seethe with rebel and ethnic violence after much of the rest of the once war-torn country has returned to relative calm.

“At the same time, the Congolese Government must ensure the progressive demilitarization of the mining areas and prevent its own armed forces from exploiting these resources,” he warned.

“Unfortunately, with the recent round of integration and demobilization of Congolese armed groups (whose members were enlisted in the army after reaching accords with the Government), the problem of discipline in the FARDC has worsened.”

Mr. Doss noted that MONUC was implementing, together with other UN agencies, a multi-faceted protection strategy for tens of thousands of civilians “under the threat of imminent danger,” with 58 forward bases. “I can assure that local people greatly appreciate our presence and the protection that MONUC provides,” he said.

Over 1.25 million people have been uprooted or re-displaced by violence in North and South Kivu provinces, and the volatile security situation has hampered aid agencies’ efforts to provide assistance.

Related articles

  1. 'Deadly environment' plus 'political and social' obstacles hinder Ebola fight, Security Council hears (July 24, 2019)
  2. Ebola outbreak declared an international Public Health Emergency (July 17, 2019)
  3. DR Congo Delays Results of December Election (January 6, 2019)
  4. At least 30 dead after massacres in Ituri (March 2, 2018)
  5. Peacekeepers, Congo Army to Resume Joint Fight Against Rwandan Rebels (January 28, 2016)
  6. Political tensions 'running high' in DR Congo ahead of 2016 elections (October 7, 2015)
  7. UN Report Blames Ugandan Islamists for 237 Killings in DR Congo (May 14, 2015)
  8. Rights Groups: DR Congo Must Free Pro-democracy Activists (April 13, 2015)
  9. DRC Army Putting Pressure on FDLR (April 1, 2015)
  10. ICC Case Against Bemba Wrapping Up as Another Opens (November 12, 2014)
  11. Denis Mukwege Wins Sakharov Prize 2014 (October 21, 2014)
  12. Southern African Leaders to Meet in Zimbabwe (August 15, 2014)
  13. ICC confirms war crimes charges against Bosco Ntaganda (June 10, 2014)
  14. Senior UN officials urge Brazzaville to halt expulsion of DR Congo nationals (May 26, 2014)
  15. Kerry Calls on Kabila to Honor Constitution (May 4, 2014)
  16. Security Council extends UN mission, intervention force in DR Congo for one year (March 28, 2014)
  17. Bosco Ntaganda Attacked Civilians on Ethnic Grounds, ICC Prosecutor Says (February 10, 2014)
  18. New DR Congo amnesty law welcomed by UN envoys (February 5, 2014)
  19. Colonel Mamadou Ndala Is Killed in Ambush (January 2, 2014)
  20. No 'Peace Deal' With Defeated M23 Rebels, DR Congo Says (November 11, 2013)
  21. Congo Will Not Sign a 'Peace Deal' With Defeated M23 Rebels, Government Says (November 6, 2013)
  22. Congo Army Takes Control of Mbuzi Hill From M23 Rebels (November 4, 2013)
  23. Kabila Congratulates Congo Army for Defeating M23 Rebels (October 30, 2013)
  24. Advancing Congo Troops Take Control of Rumangabo From M23 Rebels (October 28, 2013)
  25. Congo Army Liberates Rutshuru, Kiwanja and Kibumba From M23 Rebels (October 27, 2013)
  26. Congo Army Dislodges M23 Rebels From Strategic Town of Kibumba (October 26, 2013)
  27. Ban Ki-moon Confirms M23 Rebels Shelled Rwanda (August 31, 2013)
  28. DR Congo Will Defend Itself Against an Attack by Rwanda, Government Says (August 31, 2013)
  29. M23 Rebels Fired Shells Into Rwanda, Not Congo Army, UN Says (August 30, 2013)
  30. Mortar Shells From Rwanda Kill Civilians in Eastern Congo (August 23, 2013)

Live TV Congo Radio en ligne Radio
Available on App Store
Get it on Google Play

Contact Us | About Us | Édition en Français | French Edition

© All rights reserved.