News / Africa

Medical Charity Criticizes UN’s Congo Mandate

Nick Long
The French aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is asking U.N. peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo to stay away from the hospitals and health centers where its staff are working.  The charity has also criticized the U.N. for providing armed escorts for aid workers. 
 
The charity, usually known by its French acronym MSF, has published a letter criticizing the United Nations for combining what it suggests are contradictory mandates - to aid and protect the population but also to fight.
 
The letter suggests the contradiction has become acute with a U.N. Security Council resolution in March that gave a new U.N. intervention brigade the task of neutralizing armed groups in the eastern DRC. 
 
Bertrand Perrochet is head of MSF’s mission in Congo. 
 
He said it’s really important that humanitarian workers are seen to be neutral and independent and the new offensive mandate of the U.N. intervention brigade is creating confusion.  He asked how can an organization, in this case the U.N., be at the same time humanitarian and a combatant taking sides in the conflict? 
 
Perrochet says that’s why MSF is reminding the U.N. that it’s important that all armed groups in Congo, including the U.N. mission, known as MONUSCO, stay away from MSF health structures so that they are not targeted.
 
For the same reason the letter also criticizes MONUSCO policy of providing armed escorts for U.N. aid workers traveling in insecure areas.
 
Perrochet told VOA other non-U.N. aid workers are also sometimes “influenced” by MONUSCO and agree to travel with armed escorts.
 
The letter prompted a strong reaction Wednesday from MONUSCO spokesman Manodge Mounoubai, who rejects the suggestion that the U.N. in Congo has contradictory mandates.
 
Our mandate, said Mounoubai, is to aid, protect and fight. I don’t know what MSF wants us to do, he continued.  Fold our arms and allow armed groups to kill the population?  We can’t tolerate that.
 
He also dismisses criticism of U.N. aid workers having armed escorts. 
 
He says MSF is trying to dictate to the UN how it should do its work.  MONUSCO, he says, cannot allow colleagues from U.N. aid agencies, whether it’s the World Food Program or the children’s agency UNICEF, to work in an environment where their lives are in danger.  We have a responsibility to protect them, he added, and that’s what we do.
 
The U.N. World Food Program, or WFP, told VOA that its food convoys in Congo, which are run by private contractors, are not normally accompanied by U.N. escorts, but that program staff traveling in U.N. vehicles are.
 
Up to now, a spokesman said, WFP convoys have not been attacked or pillaged by armed groups - although they are sometimes stopped by them - nor have WFP staff accompanied by armed escorts been attacked.
 
The World Food Program and the World Health Organization, another U.N. aid agency, both declined to comment on whether they think armed escorts for their staff are a necessity.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid