The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) is welcoming as a positive step a U.S. military strategy to defeat armed insurgents in the Great Lakes region.
At a meeting with Rwanda officials, the new U.S. envoy to the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Barrie Walkley discussed strategies to defeat militia groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in the region.
“I will concern myself with the regional applications [including such] issues as the FDLR, the Lord's Resistance Army, conflict minerals, security sector reform, the problems with armed groups in the region and violence against women. Issues of that sort will be my responsibility,” Walkley said.
MONUSCO spokesman Madnodje Mounoubai says the initiative will help bolster security, especially in the restive parts of Congo.
“This is certainly good news for us. Everything and anything that is being done to fight the FDLR is always welcome,” said Mounoubai. “We on the DRC side are supporting the armed forces to fight the FDLR as well as all existing illegal armed forces [rebels].”
The Congolese government has often blamed the FDLR rebels of attacking unarmed civilians in the north. The LRA has also been accused of rape, kidnapping, torture and killings when they invade villages in the Great Lakes region.
Last year, President Barack Obama authorized the deployment of about 100 troops to help regional forces flush out the LRA from the battlefield. The LRA rebels are reportedly active at the border between DRC, Uganda and the Central African Republic where they are accused of committing crimes against humanity. MONUSCO spokesman Mounoubai said the US forces on the ground will provide critical intelligence to help defeat the insurgents.
“The move by the American government so far has been more on the Ugandan part. But, I hope that in the near future, DRC will also be brought into this specific project against the LRA,” said Mounoubai. “We have been supporting the DRC army in the fight against the LRA, and we are also working with the Ugandan forces deployed in the area against the LRA.”
Some residents in both south and north Kivu provinces are reporting a decrease in attacks by armed groups in the area. Mounoubai credits the drop to what he calls forceful military action against the rebels.
“This may be attributed to the strong and robust [action] that they [rebels] have been receiving lately not only from the MONUSCO forces but also from the Congolese armed forces,” continued Mounoubai. “[They] are better organized now after they took some time to reorganize themselves. They are deploying on the ground and they have shown more resilience in this fight than before and they have been very successful lately.”
Mounoubai says the new US strategy will help maintain peace and security in northern Congo.