Congo: Army Accused Of Atrocities

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

July 14, 2009: The UN estimates that the Ugandan rebel Lords Resistance Army now has around 500 fighters operating in northeastern Congo, south Sudan, and as far west as the Congo-Central African Republic border. The estimate is very guesstimate and is based on fragmentary reports from Congolese civilians, NGOs operating in the region, and limited military recon. The UN has added some new air assets to its operations in northeastern Congo (four Russian-made MI-17 helicopters and a Russian-made MI-25 reconnaissance helicopter). This is an incremental deployment but likely the best the UN can do at the moment. The helicopters will provide some additional recon, airlift, and air strike capability. The MI-17 is a derivative of the Russian MI-8 helicopter. It can carry a couple of dozen soldiers as passengers. We may hear about UN peacekeepers launching small-scale airmobile forays against the LRA.

July 11, 2009: The UN said it still needs an additional 3000 peacekeeping troops in Congo, but it will be at least three months (or more) before the reinforcements arrive. The reinforcements were requested in late 2008. Tanzania, Jordan, Bangladesh, and Egypt promised to send troop contingents. The UN peacekeeping directorate is still seeking more.

July 7, 2009: The government and the military command said that it will punish Congolese soldiers who abuse civilians. The government and military have been the targets of NGO complaints on several issues, but accusations of rape by Congolese soldiers (verified by media, military observers, and aid groups, among others) has hurt the government politically. A recent human rights group study contended that the Congolese Army (FARDC) is responsible for most of the rapes committed in eastern Congo. It also accused the army of looting and "forced labor" (ie, rounding up civilians at gunpoint and ordering them to carry supplies and do manual work).

July 2, 2009: China is deploying another peacekeeping team to the Congo to serve with MONUC. This is China's tenth team to serve in the Congo (ie, it has deployed, as part of a military rotation policy, nine other teams since 2003). The first contingent of the new rotation is a 100 troops unit with engineers and medical staff. Another 118 troops will deploy later in July.

July 1, 2009: The UN estimates that the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) has killed 1,200 Congolese in the six months following the joint Uganda-South Sudan-Congo joint offensive against the Ugandan rebel organization. The LRA cadres have abducted at least 1,500 Congolese.

 

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