News / Africa

Human Rights Group Opposes Withdrawal of U.N. Troops from DRC

Joe DeCapua

Amnesty International says it opposes the DRC government’s call for U.N. forces to withdraw from the country by the middle of next year.
    
U.N. troops (MONUC) and government forces are currently involved in another joint operation to try to drive out Rwandan Hutu rebel forces in the east of the country.  Similar offensives also have been launched in the past against the Ugandan LRA rebels in the country.

The eastern DRC has been marred by conflict for many years resulting in millions of deaths, most of them civilians.  The human rights group says, “Massacres, rapes and looting continue in the country unabated."

Human Rights Group Opposes Withdrawal of U.N. Troops from DRC
Human Rights Group Opposes Withdrawal of U.N. Troops from DRC

Andrew Philip, Amnesty International’s researcher on the DRC, says, “Yesterday, it was confirmed publicly and officially that the government has requested MONUC to leave the country by June 2011. -- a withdrawal that should commence, the government has asked, by June of this year,” he says.

Amnesty calls it a “very dangerous move on the part of the government.”
    
“We don’t think the time is right for a withdrawal, or indeed a substantial reduction of the U.N. peacekeeping force in the Congo,” he says.
    
Why now?
    
“The government is anxious because it’s facing elections in 2011.  I think it’s anxious to demonstrate to its own population, to the rest of the world that the security situation in the east of the country is improving.  I think it’s also nervous of too much international involvement in the DRC around the time of the elections.  It has asked MONUC to leave mainly for political reasons,” he says.
    
However, Philip says the decision has “failed to take into account the real needs of its population or the risks involved.”
    
Many human rights groups and aid organizations have highlighted the ongoing violence against women in the eastern DRC.  Rape, they say, is being used as a weapon of war to demoralize and subdue the population.  Some women have been so brutally attacked, that doctors say even surgery cannot repair all the physical damage done.
    
“Let’s look at some basic facts.  MONUC for the moment is mainly concentrated in two provinces in eastern DRC, which are the Kivus (North and South), which have a population of around 8 to 10 million.  MONUC is currently the only force that is capable of providing a measure of relative protection to that population,” he says.
    
The national army
    
Philip says, “The government army hasn’t proven itself capable of protecting civilians.  And indeed itself has been responsible for numerous human rights violations.  The real fear is that if MONUC is withdrawn the local population will be at the mercy of armed groups that still continue to operate in that part of the world.”

    
He also says the national army is not properly trained or equipped and is poorly led “or under direct government control in all cases.”
    
Is MONUC’s withdrawal mandatory following the government’s decision?  Philip says, “This is a difficult area for the U.N. because of course they’re there with the permission and consent of the government.  So in a sense their hands are tied a little bit by what the government says to them.”
    
However, he says the United Nations and the African Union could send a strong message to the government that now is not the time for MONUC to leave.          
    
“It’s also I think incumbent on the government to think very hard and carefully about what it is asking MONUC to do.  Many, many preconditions that had been set for the withdrawal of MONUC back in 2007 haven’t been met at all by the government.  And it’s something they need to consider very carefully because, frankly, they’re playing fast and loose with the lives of their own people,” he says.
    
Last December, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution, which in part, reads: “Stressing the primary responsibility of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for ensuring security in its territory and protecting its civilians with respect for the rule of law, human rights and international humanitarian law, and stressing the importance of urgently undertaking comprehensive and lasting security sector reform and of permanently disarming, demobilizing, resettling or repatriating, as appropriate, and reintegrating Congolese and foreign armed groups for the long-term stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”
    
Amnesty says MONUC is the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission in the world with over 20,000 personnel.  The current authorization for MONUC expires May 31st.  The U.N. and the Congolese government are currently meeting on the issue.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More