The human rights group Amnesty International says the recent
dramatic escalation of violence puts the eastern DRC at risk of becoming a
"humanitarian catastrophe." Amnesty is calling for more UN peacekeeping troops
to be sent to the region and greater international pressure to be placed on the
Tawanda Hondora, deputy director of Amnesty
International's Africa program, spoke from London to VOA English to Africa
Service reporter Joe De Capua about how the current crisis could be resolved.
"Several things can actually be done at this
stage to prevent the situation deteriorating further. And the first [is] that
the CNDP, which is one of the armed opposition groups and the one that's
fighting currently against of the government of DRC forces – They need to stop
their attacks, which are leading to civilians having to flee and civilian
causalities. We also need to see diplomatic pressure being applied on the CNDP
and countries that have influence on the CNDP, such as Rwanda," he says.
He says that the pressure needs to come from both
the region and the international community, including the UN Security Council.
"We're calling for the United Nations Security
Council to take immediate and urgent steps to maker sure that MONUC, which is
the UN peacekeeping force…is reinforced and provided with the military hardware
in order to enable it to discharge its mandate of protecting civilians in
eastern DRC," he says.
Asked what real pressure could be placed on the
warring parties, Hondora says, "There are countries obviously that provide both
moral and material support to some of these armed groups operating in eastern
DRC. They need to be leaned upon to stop these attacks. They're killing
civilians, women and children. And if not checked, we will see a situation
where neighboring countries also begin to be destabilized. So, it is very
important for countries that are neighbors of the DRC – Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda
and all other countries that are in the surrounding region – to put pressure.
The AU, especially the Peace and Security Council, ought to become involved in
He warns that time is short. "We cannot wait to
see another situation develop in eastern DRC, which is similar to the one
witnessed between 1998 and 2002, where more than three million people died. It
has to be stopped."
The Amnesty International official says the
UN arms embargo on the DRC has obviously failed.