Congo: Policing the Peacekeepers

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: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

July 27, 2007: The situation in North Kivu province is considered a humanitarian disaster, with 600,000 people in dire need of assistance. What makes the situation so desperate in North Kivu is that all these internally displaced people (IDPs) are on the move at once. Thus North Kivu is the main focus of UN humanitarian concerns in the Congo.

July 26, 2007: While the army "demobilization and reintegration" process in Ituri province has had some successes, the program in North Kivu has faced several setbacks. The chaos in

North Kivu has increased the already numerous problems UN peacekeepers confront when trying to integrate former rebels into Congolese Army units. Five new Congolese Army brigades are being formed from former militia units in North Kivu.

The UN now demands a "zero tolerance policy" for crimes committed by international troops serving in UN peacekeeping operations. In the past, this mainly had to do with sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. However, now the UN has to deal with allegations (supported by evidence) that Pakistani peacekeepers sold weapons to rebels in exchange for gold. The UN expects the governments contributing peacekeeping troops to discipline the criminals. Though there are good reasons to suspect some governments will be lax in prosecuting miscreants, a number of nations will enforce the rules. UN duty is looked upon as a "quality assignment" by many militaries. One reason is the pay is good. The international recognition also brings prestige to senior officers.

July 23, 2007: The UN is being accused of "white-washing" an investigation into claims that UN peacekeepers sold guns to Congolese rebels in exchange for gold and cash.

July 17, 2007: The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) denied claims that it has been involved in smuggling deals with UN peacekeepers from India.

 

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