RAPAPORT… A proposal for a neutral force to help end the violence in eastern Democratic of the Congo (DRC) is under consideration by United Nations peacekeeping operations, according to a top official visiting Africa’s Great Lakes region ahead of a high-level meeting on the issue later this month.
“The concept must be developed and further detailed, while realizing that after all it is up to the Security Council to express itself on the approval of such a concept and its implementation,” said Hervé Ladsous, the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
The concept of deploying a neutral international force along the border between Rwanda and the DRC was proposed by Great Lakes countries at a regional summit in July, following months of violence in the DRC due to the renewed operations of armed groups, particularly in the gold- and diamond-rich provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu.
“The Democratic Republic of the Congo has certainly experienced, in these last months, an extraordinarily complex and sad situation, marked by much suffering and considerable displacement of the population due to violence, murders, rapes and insecurity,” Ladsous said.
One group responsible for the resurgent in conflict, the 23 March Movement (M23), has clashed with national army troops supported by peacekeepers from the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), and has caused massive displacement of local residents, in addition to raising concerns about the region’s stability, according to the UN.
The fighting has uprooted nearly half a million people this year, including some 220,000 people in North Kivu province, 200,000 in South Kivu province, and more than 51,000 who have fled to neighboring Uganda and Rwanda. The M23’s activities have led to condemnation from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council.
Ladsous said that MONUSCO has adopted a robust strategy for support to the Congolese armed forces to try to stem the violence in the Kivus. He added that discussions with high-level officials, including DRC’s President Joseph Kabila, were aimed at identifying further appropriate solutions.