RAPAPORT… The United Nations has taken measures to bolster security in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Tensions between armed groups and military operations have raised instability in the region, which flared-up in May when a group of 10 to 12 militiamen attacked villages in South Kivu, killing 18 civilians and wounding two dozen.
More recently, the United Nations’ mission to the diamond-rich nation, MONUC reported that fighting between the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) and the Force for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) broke out June 15, during which three FDLR combatants were killed and two firearms were recovered.
MONUC stated that an explosion at an ammunitions dump in Equateur province, on the night of June 17, caused the death of three people, and left 52 injured.
MONUC military spokesperson Gabriel de Brosses reported at a weekly press conference June 21 that the situation in North Kivu remains “precarious but under control,” with the MONUC Indian contingent conducting a total of 609 patrols to increase security.
In South Kivu, the second joint operation between MONUC forces and the FARDC was carried out in the Nindja forest, in order to seek out and pursue FDLR and Rasta forces.
During the past week, MONUC carried out a total of 329 patrols in the province with the aim of assisting the FARDC, and to enhance security for the local population, de Brosses explained, adding that naval units have also stepped up patrols on Lake Kivu in relation to the illegal traffic of firearms.
Violence in the eastern provinces come after government forces clashed with former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba’s security guards in the January through March timeframe, which left more than 100 people dead. The clashes have raised concerns the mineral-rich nation may fall back into civil war, which plagued the country during the 1990s leaving an estimated 4 million people dead.