The UN has intensified its efforts on African security by extending its peacekeeping mission in Sudan for another year and deploying its top humanitarian official into the troubled Democratic Republic of Congo to attend to alarming levels of insecurity created by armed groups.
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday to keep its peace mission- UNMIS operating in Sudan until April 30, 2011- with plans underway to renew the mission’s mandate.
Also the Security Council has deployed John Holmes to three provinces where humanitarian workers face increasingly intricate conditions where tens of thousands of people have reportedly been forced to flee their homes as rapes and looting continue in the hot spots of DR Congo.
Sudan and DR Congo have become important to the Security Council’s agenda as Sudan prepares for a referendum for independence and the UN’s peacekeeping mission in DR Congo comes to an end.
Sudan is getting ready for a referendum early next year to make a decision whether or not the south secedes from Sudan.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the feeble progress made toward preparing for the referendum.
The forthcoming referendum would also decide who gets the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei; a region that threatens to upset the peace agreement in Sudan which ended the 20-years civil war between north and south Sudan; claiming over 2 million lives.
However, to this regard the Security Council has moved to extend its peace mission that has since upheld the fragile peace between the north and south.
The current mandate of Monuc- the UNs peace mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo expires in May, and the Congolese authorities have asked the mission to prepare for a withdrawal.
However, human rights activists have warned that abuses such as rapes and looting continue to plague the region; and displacements of populations are constant; and thousands of people in need are left with no assistance.
According to reports, the situation is becoming increasingly difficult for humanitarian workers whose operations have been restricted by hostility and violence. UN peacekeeping troops in DR Congo have sometimes been accused of gold smuggling, running from rebels, and sex abuses.
Human rights say better protection for civilians was promised after military operations last year but the overall situation has barely improved.
Mr. Holmes will visit DR Congo’s hot spot- the Kivu region, where a military campaign backed by the UN against Rwandan Hutu rebels has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, and the north-eastern part of the country, where attacks by Ugandan rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army on villages are still common.
Mr. Holmes is also scheduled to visit the western province of Equateur, where a recent insurgency by Enyele fighters has forced thousands of people into the forests.
On Monday, Mr. Holmes is expected to discuss civilian protection issues with DR Congo’s President Joseph Kabila.