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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid