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UN peacekeepers have failed in DRC as rebels strengthen positions

Article published on the 2009-11-25 Latest update 2009-11-25 16:47 TU

UN soldiers pass near a UN mission in DR Congo (MONUC) base at Kiwanja, about 80 km north of Goma(Photo: AFP)

UN soldiers pass near a UN mission in DR Congo (MONUC) base at Kiwanja, about 80 km north of Goma
(Photo: AFP)

Monuc, the United Nations' largest peacekeeping force, has failed to eliminate Rwandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, while local rebels in the eastern part of the country have seized even more power, according to a UN report leaked on Wednesday. The report says that the peacekeeping presence has not stemmed the factional conflict in the North and South Kivu provinces.

"Military operations have ...not succeeded in neutralising the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the Kivus and have resulted in an expansion of the (Congolese Tutsi) CNDP military influence in the region," according to the report penned by UN experts.

In addition, the report says that the Congolese army is giving weapons to rebel groups who are aiding them in smuggling sought-after minerals and gold out of the Kivu regions. Government officials in various African countries have also been implicated in this lucrative million-dollar scheme as guns are traded for minerals.

The FDLR "has a far-reaching international diaspora network invovled in day-to-day running of the movement; the coordination of military and arms-trafficking activities and the management of financial activities," according to the report.

The 93-page report that was made for the UN Security Council says that the failure of peacekeepers and Congolese troops to impose order in the area has also shown that fighting is not between combatants, but soldiers battling civilians.

Civilians have been suffering and continue to suffer the brunt of the fighting. Medecins sans Frontières issued a report on Tuesday saying that 500,000 people came to them in eastern DRC during 2009.

The fighting "still has a very bad effect on the population. The population is suffering a lot-- we still have a lot of violence, and a lot of displaced people," Romain Gitenet, MSF's head of mission who is stationed in Goma, told RFI.

Gitenet says MSF has treated 5,200 victims of sexual violence in the North and South Kivu regions in 2009. The group performed 1,500 surgical operations on wounded people.

But diplomatic overtures made at trying to stem the ongoing conflict are seen to be hindering the peace process.

The Congolese army, which has the backing of UN troops, spearheaded a new offensive aimed at eliminating the FDLR in the country earlier this year. This was a bilateral attempt made by Kinshasa to create better relations with Rwanda, its former enemy.

CNDP rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was arrested in January as part of this ongoing effort.

Nkunda's CNDP rebels were integrated into the Congolese army as part of the disarmament, demobilization and rehabilitation process mandated by the UN. But where their loyalties lie is another issue.








Some 25,000 UN personnel currently operate in the DRC.

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