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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs