Killing of Congolese civilians highlights urgency of UN summit
At least 12 people were killed Nov. 6 in the Congo. Today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon called for rebels to restore the ceasefire.
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"People are being slaughtered and [UN peacekeepers] did nothing," a spokesman for President Joseph Kabila said....
A spokesman for the UN in DR Congo, Madnodje Mounoubai, told the BBC that the UN was doing its best to help civilians, but that peacekeepers could not fire at rebels when they were surrounded by civilians.
"You cannot fire when you have civilians on the road running in all directions. If you start firing in that situation you end up killing a lot of civilians," he said.
For its part, India intends to reinforce its contribution to the UN peacekeeping forces in Congo, reports Agence France-Presse. The Indian army announced Thursday that it would send a battalion of 1,200 Gurkha troops to join the UN mission.
"The Gurkhas would replace our sixth light infantry battalion in the DRC and the deployment would be completed within the month," the spokesman said in New Delhi.
The ministry said the Gurkhas had been specially trained.
"Keeping in view the volatile conditions in Congo, the unit has carried out extensive training and mission sensitization in Delhi for the past few months in all aspects of UN operations," it said in a statement.
The Economist writes that "the root of the problem goes back to the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994."
After the genocidal Hutu militias were chased out of Rwanda, they fled to Congo, called themselves the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and have marauded in North Kivu ever since. Successive weak regimes in Kinshasa, Congo's distant capital, have used them as a tool, first against a Rwandan intervention that helped spark a wider conflict from 1998 to 2003. Congo's President Kabila is now using them as proxies against General Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP). Mr Kabila's failure to rid eastern Congo of the Hutu génocidaires has nourished General Nkunda's own brand of Tutsi extremism. Mr Kabila has also winked at local militias, including the Mai-Mai, who have been fighting General Nkunda's men too.
Neighbouring Rwanda is also culpable. Its government has repeatedly endorsed various demands of the general, who refuses to register his group as a political movement in Congo, eschewing the UN-sponsored elections there two years ago. Instead, Rwanda's President Kagame has pursued a contradictory policy, telling Mr Kabila to squash the Hutu rebels of the FDLR but refusing to meet the FDLR's demands to have a legal stake in Rwanda's politics. If Mr. Kagame let it do so, many of the FDLR fighters, especially those who did not play known roles in the genocide, would probably go home.