Congo: The Enemy Within

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

February 8, 2006; The UN warned the government that UN troops operating in the DRC will not work with Congolese troops who commit human rights violations. The UN force in the Congo (MONUC) reported that it has received detailed complaints accusing the Congolese military of crimes including rape and murder. A senior officer with the peacekeeping force said, "We can't continue to support these forces if they commit human rights violations. Otherwise we become party to these actions." That quote states the situation clearly and succinctly. The UN is trying to defeat and disarm rogue militias in the eastern Congo and build a a capable, responsible Congolese military force-- shades of the US situation in Iraq. The truth is, the Congolese Army is a collection of former militias, national units, and some tribal contingents. Tribal issues divide the military. Sometimes tribal squabbles erupt and members of the military --who are supposed to provide security-- instead of stopping the fighting, join it because kin are involved.

February 7, 2006: Uganda claimed that LRA leader Joseph Kony had left Sudan and is now hiding out in the northeastern Congo. The Ugandan military said Kony "fled a base" in Sudan near Juba (in south Sudan). Kony left the base on February 5. Ugandan troops were operating in the area of the base camp. Kony may be in the Congo, in the Garamba National Park area. Garamaba is where eight Guatemalan peacekeepers died in an ambush on January 23. The Guatemalan commandos were believed to be trying to arrest another LRA leader. The Congo government and the UN have assured Uganda that it will stop LRA infiltrators and arrest LRA members in the Congo.

February 6, 2006; Rogue militia attacks in North Kivu province have once again disrupted efforts to aid refugees. Fighting which raged from mid-January to early February left 37,000 refugees without aid and support. This is why the "secondary effects" of fighting in less-developed countries often kills more people than the fighting. Hunger may not lead to starvation but poor diet leaves refugees susceptible to diseases, which kill more quickly than starvation. Exposure to the weather also kills refugees.

 

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