UN warns DR Congo rebels it will intervene

 

Goma, eastern Congo

The United Nations Secretary General has warned armed rebels in Eastern Congo that the organisation's new “intervention brigade” would prevent any repeat of the fighting which has driven thousands of refugees out of camps this week. In a visit to the embattled lakeside city of Goma, Ban Ki-moon said the 3,000-strong force which has begun deployment will “enforce the peace”.

Fighting between Congolese government forces and the M23 rebel group has reached the outskirts of the eastern trading hub, putting Mr Ban's visit in jeopardy. The UN and the Congolese government suffered a major reverse in November when the rebels, who are accused of being backed by neighbouring Rwanda, overran the largest city in the east of the country.

They later withdrew and a tense ceasefire held for six months until this week's clashes erupted. As well as sparking a humanitarian crisis, the November setback forced a major rethink of the UN's peacekeeping operations. The result was a new mandate for an intervention brigade to be equipped with attack helicopters, surveillance drones and a mandate to engage and fight armed rebel groups.

The UN's mission in Congo is already has the world's largest peacekeeping operation in Congo, with 17,000 personnel. But in a country the size of Western Europe they have been overstretched. Blue-helmeted forces in Eastern Congo have been frequently outmatched by “superior rebel forces” said Mr Ban, who successfully sued the Security Council for a tougher mandate and more funding.

This week's high-level visit, which went ahead despite the fighting, included the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, who committed $1bn in development funding to back a new peace effort across the region.

“The UN is bringing troops and we're bringing dollars” said Mr Kim, a Korean American doctor who argued that new roads, jobs and healthcare would create the space for peaceful reconciliation in the region.

At Goma's Heal Africa hospital which has treated tens of thousands of victims of the sexual violence that has marked this conflict, demonstrators called for more help from the UN.

“We're tired with this war, the UN intervention needs to come,” said Beth Mapendo a women's rights activist.

Mr Ban indicated that the UN brigade would have engaged with M23 rebels during recent fighting had it already been in position.

“It would have been different (this week),” he told The Independent. “And had there been an intervention brigade in November it would have been much different.”

The Secretary General hailed the new force as “unprecedented in the history of UN peacekeeping”. But it remains unclear when it will be fully deployed with only 100 personnel so far on the ground. Troops from South Africa and Tanzanian will be in position from mid-June but Malawian forces are not expected until late July. A £10m fleet of drones, which will be used in a peacekeeping operation for the first time, are still caught up in the red-tape of UN procurement, an official said.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Eastern Congo, where a string of conflicts dating back to the aftermath of the Rwanda genocide in 1994 have left more than one million people in refugee camps, centre on a new agreement signed in February. Dubbed the “framework of hope” by former Irish premier Mary Robinson, who is the UN's special envoy to the region, it hinges on persuading Congo and its neighbours Rwanda and Uganda to unravel their conflicting interests in Eastern Congo.

A senior diplomat involved in the peace process described the framework as “thin and fragile” and much hope for it rests on donors' promises of a “peace dividend” and Mrs Robinson's personal history with the countries' three presidents - Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and the DRC's Joseph Kabila.

With a weak and corrupt central government, based a continent away in Kinshasa, the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has become a theatre for armed groups and proxy forces from neighbouring countries. Rwanda and Uganda were found by a UN group of experts to be supporting the M23 rebels, who are led by Tutsis, the same ethnic group as President Kagame. The dossier led to Western donors and multilateral lenders cutting funding to Rwanda which is dependant on aid for 40 percent of its budget.

Meanwhile, the Congolese army, where it has been deployed, has been ineffectual as a fighting force and found guilty of horrendous human rights abuses including mass rape. Mr Ban said he had warned Mr Kabila that his troops must protect civilians and observe humanitarian laws or be held accountable.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice