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UN Peacekeeping Mission Launches Drones in DRC



The United Nations has begun using drones to gather intelligence about rebel groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The U.N. deployed its first two unmanned aerial vehicles in the region on Tuesday.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said they would be used to monitor "delicate regions of the Kivu provinces," near Congo's borders with Uganda and Rwanda.

He said there were problems with armed groups in the area, where U.N. peacekeepers and Congolese troops recently fought rebel group M23, and other groups remain active.

Philipp Rotmann, the associate director of Germany's Global Public Policy Institute, says the surveillance drones will be useful to the peacekeeping mission in the DRC.

However, he told VOA, the unmanned aircraft should not been considered a "panacea" to resolve the region'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."





Ladsous said the situation in the eastern DRC is "very different" from a year ago, when the rebel group M23 captured several cities in the region.

Last month, M23 announced it was laying down its arms after the Congolese army captured the group's last strongholds with the help of a special U.N. intervention force.

An expected peace agreement between the Congolese government and M23 was never signed, as the two sides disagreed on the wording of the document.

Congo and neighboring Uganda, which has helped mediate talks between the two sides, said after a meeting Monday between Presidents Joseph Kabila and Yoweri Museveni the leaders want the peace talks concluded "as soon as possible."

The U.N. and its 20,000-member peacekeeping mission are now focusing on other rebels in the region, including the Rwandan Hutu group FDLR.

Eastern Congo has been ravaged by years of fighting between the government and various rebel groups, who compete for control of the area's rich mines.

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