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Uganda Hopeful UN Drones Will Help Combat ADF

A technician checks a surveillance drone operated by the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern city of Goma December 3, 2013.
Uganda’s military is welcoming the deployment of U.N. drones over its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officers hope the drones will help combat a Ugandan rebel group, the ADF, that hides out in the eastern DRC.

The first two aerial drones were deployed by the U.N. on Tuesday over eastern Congo. Their aim, said the U.N., is to gather intelligence about rebel movements in the area, where a number of armed groups are still active.

Neighboring Uganda said it welcomed the move. Paddy Ankunda, spokesman for the Ugandan Ministry of Defense, says he hopes the drones will help combat fighters from a Ugandan-led rebel movement, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

“If the drones are going to help us deal with the Allied Democratic Forces that are destabilizing our country, then we have no problem with that. Our concerns are the negative forces based in eastern DRC that are destabilizing our western border,” said Ankunda.

The ADF is a highly secretive rebel group that formed in western Uganda in the 1990s, and has been based in the Rwenzori Mountains along the Congolese border for nearly two decades. The group reportedly led an attack in eastern DRC earlier this year, causing refugees to flee over the border into Uganda.

Ankunda pointed out, though, that drones can have their disadvantages.

“They have their negative psychological effects on the population, but that is the vision between the DRC government and the U.N,” said Ankunda.

Last month, a U.N. intervention brigade of over 3,000 troops helped the Congolese army defeat one of the area’s most active rebel groups, M23. M23 has since surrendered to the Uganda military, although a peace deal has yet to be signed.