News / Africa

UN Defends Performance in Eastern DRC

Congolese Revolution Army (CRA) rebels walk past a United Nations patrol truck parked along a street in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), November 20, 2012.
Congolese Revolution Army (CRA) rebels walk past a United Nations patrol truck parked along a street in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), November 20, 2012.
Nick Long
U.N. peackeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are defending their military performance after the force failed to stop rebels from seizing the eastern city of Goma on Tuesday.   Officials say the rebels had more fighters and firepower than expected.

Congo's M23 rebels held a rally in Goma on Wednesday at which their spokesman, Vianney Kazarama, announced that the movement’s next objective is Bukavu, capital of South Kivu province.  They have already captured the town of Sake some 20 kilometers from Goma.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo, MONUSCO, says it will continue to back up the Congolese army as it has done over the past few days.  The U.N units in territory now controlled by the M23 have stayed there, except for the helicopters.

Many Congolese are asking how the combined forces of the Congolese army and MONUSCO failed to keep the rebels out of Goma.  France said Tuesday it was "absurd" that the U.N. peacekeepers could not stop the rebels, and has called for a review of the force's mandate.  

The M23 were thought to have only about 2,500 fighters in total, while the Congolese army, or FARDC, was believed to have 30,000 soldiers in North Kivu including 7,000 dug into positions defending Goma.

Backing up the FARDC is MONUSCO, which has 17,000 troops and has been costing one and a half billion dollars a year.

MONUSCO’s latest report details the fire support it gave to the army between November 15 and November 19 to try to stop the M23 from reaching Goma.

The report says MONUSCO’s attack helicopters fired 500 rockets, four missiles and a large quantity of other ammunition.

And that wasn’t all.  The mission’s military spokesman, Colonel Felix Basse, told VOA that after the FARDC was pushed back to its second line of defence at Kamahoro, the MONUSCO contingent’s armored vehicles threw everything they had at the rebels.

"At Kamahoro we put the whole fire of our VRDMs - that’s an armored vehicle - we put the whole fire on the advance of M23, so we used other assets than helicopters," he said.

The mission took casualties defending Goma - two South African peacekeepers were wounded. But its firepower, with that of the army, wasn’t enough.

"Keep in mind one thing: the M23 starts its attack at around 4.15 am - night-time, we can say - and they conducted the attack on three axes, with heavy artillery fire, which was not expected, based on the intelligence (we had)," added  Colonel Basse.

MONUSCO estimates that the M23 deployed 3,000 fighters in its offensive, and they had night vision equipment as well as heavy artillery, both of which analysts believe must have been supplied by an external power.

Two U.N. experts reports have accused Rwanda of supplying recruits, arms, ammunition, equipment and even direct military reinforcements to the M23 - accusations which Rwanda denies.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to impose sanctions against M23 leaders.  The French-sponsored resolution condemns all foreign support for the group.

MONUSCO has a brigade around Goma responsible for the whole area of North Kivu province, and that brigade will stay there, the mission says.  

In Goma town, the mission had around 1,500 men when the M23 attacked.  The interim head of mission, General Abdallah Wafy, told VOA why the force in Goma was not larger.

"In order to protect the population our battalions have to be broken into small companies to be closer to the civilians," he said. "It’s very difficult for us to be all over the country in the east and to be concentrated again in Goma.  So we have some choices, and this is the dilemma for a peacekeeping operation like ours. "

Wafy said he hadn’t yet received reports of grave human rights abuses by the M23 since it took Goma. But he warned that the rebels would be held responsible if this occurred.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid