In a year-end report published today and based upon 23 fact-finding missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Human Rights Watch (HRW) has demanded that the United Nations Security Council “act urgently” to protect civilians from atrocities perpetrated by government and rebel troops. The Security Council should also act to ensure peacekeepers are not implicated in abuses, HRW said.
More than 1,400 civilians were brutally and deliberately murdered since January 2009 during two successive Congolese army (FARDC) operations against a Rwandan Hutu militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). In January the Congolese and Rwandan governments began joint military operations against the FDLR in a five-week operation known as Umoja Wetu. It was followed in March by a second military operation, Kimia II, conducted with the support of the UN peacekeepers.
A woman who was abducted by the FDLR during an attack on Busheke village in late January 2009:
MONUC has faced significant challenges in fulfilling this mandate. In March 2009 it joined forces with the Congolese armed forces to carry out the Kimia II military operations against the FDLR. But preparations for the operation were hurried, permitting little time for full reflection on how an international peacekeeping force could appropriately provide protection to civilians while backing a national army with a terrible human rights record. Well into Kimia II, the conditions around MONUC’s involvement were not yet properly clarified and no concrete plan to provide protection to civilians at risk was in place. To make matters worse, MONUC lacked the necessary logistical resources and rapid response capabilities to effectively carry out its mandate to protect civilians, and it had trouble grappling with the fragmented and catastrophic conflict on the ground.
In an internal memo, seen by Reuters on Friday, the United Nations’ Office of Legal Affairs wrote to peace-keeping chief Alain Le Roy soon after the offensive began outlining the strict conditions under which MONUC could back the anti-rebel drive.
The Group has continued to monitor compliance with the notification requirement incumbent upon all States of deliveries of military equipment and training to the FARDC. The Group has highlighted a number of irregular deliveries of military equipment and training from a number of different countries, including, but not limited to, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Sudan, but also irregularities regarding deliveries and training by China and the United States… 286. At the time of writing, the Group has been unable to obtain information on the sale and export of this aircraft to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and requested further information from the Governments of the United States and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Group contacted Mr. Roman, who said that the aircraft was sold by his company in Pennsylvania to Wimbi Dira Airways in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a company in which he serves as the Chief Executive Officer.