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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid