News / Africa

UN Targets FDLR Fighters in Eastern Congo

FILE - United Nations peacekeepers from Uruguay patrol a street in Goma, eastern Congo, July 13, 2012.
FILE - United Nations peacekeepers from Uruguay patrol a street in Goma, eastern Congo, July 13, 2012.
Margaret Besheer
The head of the U.N. mission in the Congo said Wednesday that with the defeat of M23 rebels, U.N. peacekeepers are targeting other armed groups that have terrorized the eastern Congo for years.  

After briefing the Security Council, the U.N.’s Martin Kobler told reporters the mission is focusing on the Rwandan Hutu group, the FDLR.

He said between 1,500 and 1,800 fighters are in the FDLR, the majority of whom are too young to have participated in the Rwandan genocide.

“Seventy percent are young, below the age of 30.  They were not involved in the 1994 genocide, so it is easier for them also to surrender to us, and we had quite a number of surrenderees.  A whole platoon every month is surrendering without fighting," said Kobler.

He said the U.N. mission, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, began operations against the FDLR  November 27 and has made important progress liberating several areas.  This week, it cleared a main road that connects the town of Pinga and the provincial capital, Goma.

“This road was closed two years.  And from yesterday on, people can bring their vegetables to Goma market; they can visit their families outside the area - after two years’ paralysis and having been terrorized by armed groups in this area," he said.

He attributed much of the success to the troops on the ground, but welcomed the addition last week to MONUSCO of two unarmed drone aircraft that are improving the mission’s ability to conduct aerial reconnaissance and gather intelligence.

Kobler said the drones are an excellent deterrent and help to encourage armed groups to surrender without fighting. They also help the mission avoid civilian casualties and minimize risk to its own personnel during operations.

MONUSCO is expecting three more unarmed drones early in the new year.

Kobler expressed cautious optimism that the eastern Congo is entering a new phase.

“There is still some hesitance, but there is a chance, at least, that this time the situation is irreversible, and we are not entering in a few years from now in a new era of violence here," he said. "But this requires not only military action; it requires in particular determined civilian action."

Kobler said improving basic services to citizens and settling root causes of the conflict must be resolved, otherwise there is a risk of losing the military gains.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs