News / Africa

UN Launches Drone Patrols in Troubled DRC

Undersecretary-General Hervé Ladsous is given briefing on drones during their official launch in Goma, Dec. 3, 2013.
Undersecretary-General Hervé Ladsous is given briefing on drones during their official launch in Goma, Dec. 3, 2013.
Pamela Dockins
The United Nations has begun deploying its first drones to gather intelligence about rebel groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Analysts have mixed views on how effective the surveillance drones will be in helping peacekeepers curb unrest in a country that has been ravaged by fighting for years.  

At a ceremony marking the launch of the first two of five drones that will eventually patrol the DRC, U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said his forces needed to get a better picture of what was happening with armed groups, refugees and displaced persons.

"This will be a tool of choice for improving the information of the mission," said  Ladsous.

  • A team of technicians prepare for the launch of a UN drone during an official ceremony, Goma, DRC, Dec. 3, 2013.
  • A MONUSCO Unarmed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) at a Goma airport during an official launch ceremony, Dec. 3, 2013.
  • Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous is given a briefing on the drones during the official launch in Goma, DRC, Dec. 3, 2013.
  • A MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission) drone on an airport runway during an official launch ceremony, Dec. 3, 2013.
  • The new drone technology will help MONUSCO fulfill its mandate to protect civilians, Dec. 3, 2013.
  • Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous inspects a MONUSCO Unarmed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that will be used in Eastern DRC, Goma, DRC, Dec. 3, 2013.
  • The UN Mission in DR Congo launches the inaugural flight of unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Goma, DRC, Dec. 3, 2013.
U.N. peacekeepers will use the drones to watch over the mineral rich eastern region, near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda.

The aerial surveillance is starting less than a month after one rebel group announced it was laying down its arms.

The M23 rebels gave up their fight after the Congolese army captured their last strongholds with the help of a special U.N. intervention force.

New York University Center on International Cooperation Research Director Richard Gowan says until recently, the U.N. mission had been losing credibility because it did not appear to have a long-term strategy for stabilizing the DRC.

"It is truly astonishing that the U.N. is only now mainstreaming drones in one of its most significant peace operations, and it has taken the U.N. a whole year, in effect, to get its first drone in the air over the eastern Congo," said Gowan.

Gowan adds the peacekeeping force needs to step up its reaction to conflict.

"The U.N. has to move quickly in terms of using new technology for peacekeeping because otherwise it is simply going to be left behind by rebel groups and armies," he said.

Analyst Philipp Rotmann of Germany's Global Public Policy Institute says the drones will be useful to the peacekeeping mission, but cannot be viewed as a panacea for the country's problems.

"Only a few drones over a huge area.  Drones need maintenance.  Drones need to refuel.  There will be a limited amount of visibility," said Rotmann.

He says expectations that the use of drones will automatically increase the safety of civilians would be unrealistic.

But John Villasenor of the Brookings Institution says the drones will be a useful tool for peacekeepers in the vast, rugged regions of the DRC.

"Anytime you have the ability to get overhead aerial imagery, it obviously increases the amount of information you have," said Villasenor.

The United Nations plans to deploy three more drones in the DRC in the coming months.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid