News / Africa

    UN Brigade Makes Mark on DRC Conflict

    UN Brigade Makes Mark on DRC Conflicti
    X
    November 12, 2013 10:54 PM
    Last week, the Congolese army, with the help of United Nations peacekeepers, crushed a rebel group that had terrorized the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for 20 months. Support from a specially created U.N. “intervention brigade” helped change the military dynamic and push rebels into peace talks they had resisted. VOA's United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer has more.
    Margaret Besheer
    Last week, the Congolese army, with the help of United Nations peacekeepers, crushed a rebel group that had terrorized the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for 20 months.  Support from a specially created U.N. “intervention brigade” helped change the military dynamic and push rebels into peace talks they had resisted. 

    This time last year, Congo’s poorly trained and undisciplined army abandoned their positions in North Kivu province, letting rebels from the group called M23 advance and briefly seize the regional capital, Goma.
     
    But that all changed recently when over a two-week period the newly bolstered army began retaking rebel strongholds, finally crushing the rebellion.  
     
    Columbia University international affairs professor Dirk Salomons attributes this shift to two developments.
     
    “First of all the government put pressure on Rwanda and Uganda, who were secretly backstopping M23," he said. "Secondly, the U.N. finally rolled up its sleeves and got a competent brigade in to knock some heads together.”

    Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
    x
    Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
    Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
    The U.N. brigade he refers to are 3,000 well-armed South African, Tanzanian and Malawian peacekeepers, backed by attack helicopters and empowered by the U.N. Security Council to neutralize the dozens of armed groups that threaten civilians in eastern Congo.
     
    The brigade started deploying in July, beefing up the 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers already there.
     
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week that the intervention brigade changed dynamics on the ground and enabled the U.N. mission to better protect civilians.
     
    “It [the intervention brigade] will remain a critical tool in support of the comprehensive political process and the protection of civilians,” he said.
     
    Salomons says the U.N. Security Council was strategically smart to choose African soldiers.

    “Security Council said let’s put South African, Malawi and Tanzania into those troops.  If they start fighting M23, and Rwanda and Uganda back M23, it’s going to be a regional war," he said. "So basically the warning was we put South Africans in the field, we put Malawians in the field, you don’t mess with them.”

    Analysts say the military defeat of M23 could serve as a warning to other militias, as well as to the international companies who finance these groups by buying looted minerals.  The military victory has also added momentum to political talks between the parties in Kampala, Uganda.
     
    Peacekeeping expert Arthur Boutellis of the International Peace Institute in New York says the real challenge now will be to see if a sustainable solution can be achieved.

    “But [it remains to be seen] whether this will actually translate into a durable political agreement, of course, between the M23 and Congolese government, but more broadly at the regional level to address the root causes of the conflict in eastern DRC," he said. "Otherwise this will have only been a temporary success.”

    The experts say other armed groups will be watching to see how the government treats M23.  If they are fair, they say, it could encourage some militias to make deals to lay down their weapons as well.

    You May Like

    Water Scarcity Could Push Conflict, Migration by 2050

    Warning comes in a new report from the World Bank titled "High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy"

    What Your First Name Says About Who You Support for President

    Bobby, Betty and Curtis tend to support Donald Trump while people named Juan, Liz or Mohammad are more likely to lean toward Hillary Clinton

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora