RAPAPORT… The United Nations (UN) official overseeing security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) urged the Security Council today to provide an additional military brigade force.
“The overall situation is volatile and precarious, and could break down at any time into large-scale conflict without much if any prior warning,” said Roger Meece, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
In the diamond-rich southeastern province of Katanga, the situation has reached “alarming proportions,” Meece said, with a major humanitarian crisis that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates to include 316,000 displaced people.
Meece added that deteriorating security in Katanga is related to advanced action by Mayi Mayi leader Gédéon, who escaped from prison in 2011, and associated militias such as Kata Katangais and others. Meanwhile, while there has been a general pause in the offensive operations of the 23 March Movement (M23), since their temporary occupation of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, Meece said there is also no evidence that the forces are pulling back or changing their military posture.
Clashes between the fighters from the M23 and the DRC’s national army (FARDC) have displaced nearly a million people in North Kivu.
Meece told the Council that while the civilian and police components, as well as specialized UN agencies, have worked to respond to the broad and growing range of security and humanitarian problems, “our forces and our resources are stretched very thin over a broad area.”
To improve the protection of civilians in North and South Kivu provinces, the UN is working to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to collect information for the UN Force Commander and to promote deterrence.
“I am convinced that a peace enforcement capability on the ground is a necessary component to achieve the conditions necessary to obtain the engagement and commitments needed by all parties,” Meece said, urging the 15-member Council to authorize such a force.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to attend the signing of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region on February 24 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That agreement was supposed to have been signed at the African Union summit on January 28, but it was delayed over what Ki-moon called “procedural issues” and not over any fundamental differences in the agreement.