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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid