Congo: We Are Here To Liberate And Kill You

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

October 19, 2009: Government soldiers (often former rebels who accepted amnesty, and a job in the army) have been causing most of the civilian deaths in the eastern Congo. UN peacekeepers are appalled at the savagery of their "allies", but have a difficult time stopping the atrocities (the wayward troops have no problem shooting at peacekeepers.) The big problem is with the Congolese officers, who are often former rebel leaders. These guys have changed uniforms, but not attitudes, and the government is finding it very difficult getting rebels to quit being rebels.

October 17, 2009: The announced withdrawal of MONUC peacekeepers was met with a great deal of skepticism. Foreign diplomats and UN peacekeepers do not believe the Congo (particularly eastern Congo) will be sufficiently stabilized by the end of 2011. In fact, some UN military advisers see a troop commitment of at least another five years. 2011 will be the 50th anniversary of Congolese independence. Major national elections are also scheduled. The celebrations and the elections will be viewed by rebels (and would-be rebels) as an opportunity for trouble.

October 16, 2009: A UN investigation concluded that the Congolese Army (FARDC) unit shot and killed, hacked, or beat to death 50 Rwandan refugees in a massacre that occurred in North Kivu province in late April 2009. The refugees were Rwandan Hutu tribesmen. The army unit was pursuing Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militiamen. The Congolese unit was one of the “reintegrated” units, largely composed of former Congolese Tutsi militiamen. The FDLR retaliated by attacking a nearby village and murdering 96 Congolese civilians. The eastern Congo has native Tutsi tribesmen.

October 13, 2009: The Congo continues to expel Angolan refugees. Diplomats describe the Angola-Congo tiff as “tit for tat expulsions” but it really has aspects of a “refugee war” with refugees used as economic and political ammunition. Angola has expelled undocumented Congolese working in Angola. Angolan sources claim the Congo has forced 23,000 Angolans to return to Angola since August 2009. The Angolan government has protested. Many of the Angolans inside the Congo have been there for at least two decades. They fled from Angola's long, bitter civil war.

October 9, 2009: The UN disarmament program in North and South Kivu provinces has been a mixed bag. Recently UN peacekeepers reached an agreement with the Republican Federal Forces (FRF) militia and a Mai-Mai militia (Mai Mai Yakutumba). The militias agreed to allow 450 militia members participate in the disarmament program. Some of the militiamen may be allowed to participate in a reintegration program (ie, learn civilian skills as they demobilize).

October 6, 2009: It often takes a long time to hear about firefights and massacres in distant regions. Typically medical relief organizations get the word from survivors. Then peacekeepers or government police investigate. Modern communications  helped speed up the reporting process. However, the government is just now confirming an attack by the Ugandan rebel LRA on the town of Digba (Orientale province, northeast Congo). The attack took place September 25. leaving 22 Congolese civilians dead. Survivors said the LRA group had around 40 men. The LRA rebels attacked the civilians with machetes.

September 30, 3009: UN peacekeeping forces firing rockets from helicopter killed seven Mai-Mai militiamen. The Mai-Mai were trying to attack a Congolese Army camp in North Kivu province. The UN reported the Congolese force in the camp requested the airstrike.

September 29, 2009: The Congolese Army is investigating a senior officer who has been accused of fraternizing with Mai-Mai militiamen –getting drunk with them, specifically. The officer (who is now officially “suspended”) was with the Mai-Mai just before the militia attacked his own forces and killed six Congolese soldiers. The attack occurred in Nyamilima (near the Congo-Uganda border). One Mai-Mai militiaman died in the attack.

 

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