congo warThe U.N. Security Council has admitted they are “deeply concerned” with the worsening situation in the D.R. of Congo.

A recent statement from the U.N. expressed worries over the worsening security and humanitarian situations in the east of the country. U.N. peacekeeping forces have met heavy resistance from rebel groups such as the M23 and FDLR in the violent areas in the east of the country.

Since the U.N. intervention there have been 55 fatalities and 18 of whom were civilians.

This resolution has been an unprecedented event in U.N. history that received a unanimous vote in favour of its inception.

Operation ‘MONUSCO’ was put into action at the end of March. The operation would see the U.N. deploy its first ever aggressive peacekeeping force into Africa in attempt to restore order within the D.R. of Congo. The operation’s mandate included U.N. forces working either alone, or with Congolese armed forces to help neutralise and disarm armed rebel groups in the east.

Violence in the eastern region of D.R. of Congo has been long and continuous since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Precious mineral resources in the region continue to fuel the instability and conflict on the ground. The U.N. statement from Security Council President Kim Sook outlined the U.N’s concern with the situation: –

“The members of the Security Council remain deeply concerned by the worsening security and humanitarian situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They reiterate their demand that the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) cease immediately attempts to establish an illegitimate parallel administration and that the M23, the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and all other armed groups cease immediately all forms of violence and destabilizing activities”.

Back in late February the U.N, along with 11 Central African leaders, signed a deal to attempt to establish peace in eastern Congo. Amongst those who signed were Rwanda and Uganda. These two countries were accused in a U.N. report last year of aiding the M23 rebel group in their takeover of the eastern city Goma. The M23 pulled out of the city under international pressure not long after taking over. Rwanda and Uganda have since strongly denied the U.N’s allegations.

The U.N. peacekeeping force was then deployed in response to the M23’s advances last year after several Congolese armed forces defected to the M23 during the invasion.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is convinced that the intervention is a great opportunity for key nations to address the underlying problems surrounding the conflict in eastern Congo.

Despite their apparent concerns, the U.N. has been quick to commend the actions of the Secretary-General. The U.N. statement also said that: –

“The members of the Security Council commend the Secretary-General for his personal diplomatic engagement and the leaders of the region for their commitment to address through dialogue and cooperation the challenges the Democratic Republic of Congo and countries of the region are facing.”

Nigeria has been the next country to sign the peace deal after signing on the day that the statement was released. The resolution has also been sponsored by France, the United States and Togo in an extra effort to make sure that armed rebels such as the M23 present no serious threat of overthrowing security forces or threatening the security of civilians in the region.

What is quite apparent to me is that the efforts of the U.N. rely on the co-operation of the other central African nations in order to succeed. The concern of the U.N. Security Council has made it clear that the situation in the D.R of Congo requires the same attention from surrounding countries.

Indeed the Secretary-General is to be commended on his efforts in earning the support of surrounding central African leaders. The support he has received shows that leaders of central Africa are striving for the stability and democratic institution that the U.N. is also seeking.

Only with appropriate co-operation and the correct strategy can the U.N. work alongside central African forces to strike at the heart of rebel groups such as the M23. Last year’s report accusing Rwanda and Uganda of aiding and abetting the likes of the M23 cannot be ignored however. The doubt surrounding the commitment of these two countries to the cause must be addressed fast in order to remain on track to providing stability and peace to Congo.

As it stands the situation remains as volatile as ever. The first ever aggressive U.N. force shows the willingness of officials to affect change within their own policies.

Only with proper unity can the U.N.’s concerns by addressed and hopefully quelled. The power continues to shift between rebel forces and opposing national armed forces. Only time and important decisions will decide where the saga goes next.

ROBERT PRITCHARD

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