News / Africa

Expanded Role for UN Troops in DRC

FILE - UN peacekeepers from Tanzania hold their weapons as they patrol outside Goma.
FILE - UN peacekeepers from Tanzania hold their weapons as they patrol outside Goma.
Nick Long
The United Nations Intervention Brigade (MONUSCO) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was given an expanded mandate that went beyond peacekeeping - allowing offensive operations to support the Congolese Army against M23 rebels. It was a pivotal move in defeating M23, and what it could mean for continuing operations against other rebel groups in the region, and for other peacekeeping operations in Africa.  

After years of disappointing performances by the UN mission in Congo, MONUSCO, against a variety of rebel groups, the Congolese were not sure what to expect of the 3,000 strong UN intervention brigade from Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi that went on the offensive against the M23 rebels in August.

The brigade has long range artillery and its Tanzanian commander is an artillery expert. Its South African snipers have also proved their worth, and the force’s willingness to give the Congolese army, the FARDC, close support, and to take casualties, has impressed local and international observers.

Security expert Nicholas Garrett has studied armed groups in the Congo and its military situation. "Yes, in my opinion the Intervention Brigade and the rest of MONUSCO, particularly with the new robust mandate, has made a significant contribution to the recent offensive and engagement of the M23. I believe it’s been absolutely key to provide the Intervention Brigade in that context and then to provide a more robust mandate, as we’ve seen in the past the FARDC has had very little success in engaging the armed groups," he stated.

That’s a view shared by many Congolese, like Bovicky Mumbere, a lorry driver in Goma.

Mumbere said he wants to thank the MONUSCO soldiers, especially those from Tanzania. Because were it not for the Tanzanians he does not know how the DRC forces would have won the war.

The Tanzanian battalion with MONUSCO suffered several casualties in the fighting, including an officer killed.

Nevertheless, experts agree that the Congolese army also put up a much better performance under new commanders and with its best units deployed to the front-line.

International Crisis Group analyst Thierry Vircoulon’s assessment is that MONUSCO gave the Congolese army important logistical and tactical support.

He said there was a real tactical working partnership between the Congolese army and the UN force. They planned their military operations together.

This was different from last year, he said, when the UN mission gave fire support to the Congolese army but did not plan operations together.

Vircoulon expects the partnership to continue.  

He said we know that both Congolese army officers and MONUSCO have said their next target will be the Rwandan rebel FDLR. But he asked if they are going to change their strategy and adapt it to a new enemy.

Security expert Garrett thinks the partnership’s tactical approach may have to change to deal with some of the rebel groups. "It depends on the armed group we’re talking about. If we are talking about the FDLR for example, that operates in a far greater geographical area and also in dispersed pockets, the same tactics might not yield the same results. At the same time though it’s important to have an actor with a robust mandate in the region," he said. "And even incremental success with this strategy, complemented by other measures might yield success certainly in particular cases."

In Vircoulon’s view, the close partnership between the Intervention Brigade and the Congolese army sets important precedents for future UN military operations.

He said it is shown that Africanizing MONUSCO allowed a shift from peacekeeping to peace enforcement, because the African countries contributing troops were willing to commit them to close combat.

And he believes it has also shown the effectiveness of close cooperation between a UN force and a national army.
 
But Vircoulon and Garret both commented that this partnership is conditional on the national army avoiding human rights violations.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs