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North Kivu DRC Residents Blame UN Mission for Escalation of Violence


Residents in the restive North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo say they are disappointed in the ability of the United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUC) to bring about peace. The residents say they are yet to see any significant improvement in their daily lives after constantly being displaced by clashes between the national army and rebels loyal to renegade army General Laurent Nkunda. They also accuse the United Nations mission of fighting on behalf of the rebel forces. This comes after the chief of the UN mission Alan Doss warned Wednesday that MONUC is no longer equal to the task of maintaining peace after a recent upsurge in fighting in North Kivu. From the capital, Goma, North Kivu resident Adili Amani Romauld tells reporter Peter Clottey that MONUC is to blame for the escalation of violence in the region.

"As far as I am concerned, the problem of being overwhelmed is not a big problem for us Congolese. But we just think the problem is MONUC because we don't know what MONUC is doing among us, and that is the big problem. So the number of soldiers is not a problem for the Congolese," Romauld noted.

He said it seems Congolese have lost confidence in the ability of the United Nations Mission there to enforce peace and stability in the region as they had hoped for.

"The Congolese people no more have trust in MONUC. We think that they are supporting the rebels. And there is a rumor that MONUC profits from the business of the rebels because people have seen soldiers of MONUC saying that 'no Nkunda, no jobs.' This is what the Congolese say they saw soldiers of MMOUNC saying… but from the time they say MONUC came to this country, nothing has changed. So we no more expect anything good from them," he said.

Romauld said most Congolese are displeased MONUC has so far failed to end the war between the rebels and the Congolese army.

"That is true because people here really want to be done with the war. And as long as MONUC is in the middle, we don't see anything changing anytime soon. That is why you see the Congolese accusing MONUC and the rebels are accusing MONUC too. So here we just want to be done with the war although MONUC's mission has been clearly defined. We want them to be on the side of the population so they can help bring the war to an end," Romauld pointed out.

He said Congolese would be grateful if the United Nations mission helps in bolstering the might of the national army to stop rebel insurgencies in North Kivu province.

"I think Congolese here would like MONUC to help the government forces to fight the rebels. And I know it might not be possible because MONUC said it is neutral, saying that it is not there to back any forces. We also want MONUC to act like a true UN force and be there to help our soldiers, who are fighting the rebels. I know it is a difficult thing to ask, but that is what we expect from MONUC," he said.

MONUC has often been criticized for its inability to stop the clashes between the rebels and the national army and to protect North Kivu civilians. The clashes are blamed for the deaths of scores of ordinary civilians who get caught in the fighting. The United Nations Mission (MONUC) has at least 6,200 of the overall force currently deployed in the volatile region.

MONUC has in recent weeks accused General Nkunda's rebels of killing at least 13 civilians and forcibly recruiting 200 young men.