DR Congo: UN warned of military support against Rwanda rebels

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U.S based human rights group has urged the United Nations Peacekeeping mission to abstain from supporting the military campaigns launched by the government armies of DR Congo against Rwandan rebel factions. Most UN backed attacks on rebel groups has resulted in reprisal killing of civilians by rebels, reports claim.

According to a new report by Human Rights Watch, the UN’s continued support defeats its mandate to protect civilians. The UN Security Council meets this week to discuss the renewal of its peacekeepers mandate in DR Congo. Analysts say that UN Security Council is expected to strengthen its focus on civilian protection, but it is unlikely to end its support for the military operations.

Reports have claimed that the Congolese military campaign against Rwandan rebels has led to the atrocious killing of civilians, and the raping and mutilation of thousands. Some of these atrocities have been committed by UN backed soldiers of DR Congo. Sources say that UN lawyers had warned about the legal risk of supporting a campaign by an army with such a poor human rights record

Because of the concerns over whether the peacekeeping mission is drawn in these abuses, the rights group suggests that the UN should wait until it can ensure that joint operations in the troubled country do not infringe international humanitarian law. Until there is an adoption of a clear and measurable condition ensuring that joint operations don’t violate international humanitarian law, the UN must withhold its support, Human Rights Watch insist.

The UN authorities argue that the situation for civilians would be even worse if the peacekeepers weren’t there, as most of the gold being exported from the country is still controlled by rebel groups who use the proceeds to buy arms. According to Dino Mahtanico, coordinator of UN arms embargo, The UN Security Council has had an arms embargo in place in DR Congo for six years following the peace accord between the government and armed groups, but this week, the council would have to decide whether to impose further sanctions on corporation that still engage in arms proliferation directly and indirectly.

A November report written by UN-mandated experts said mineral resources are being plundered with impunity and there has been a new surge of rapes and killings. It said UN forces supporting Congolese government troops have failed to stop supply lines to Rwandan-Hutu rebels. The UN forces have however withdrawn support for one army unit accused of atrocities, and vowed to do the same with others if evidence emerges.

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