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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid