March 29, 2013

UN Approves New Combat Force To Target Congo Rebels

The United Nations Security Council has approved the creation of a new combat force to conduct “targeted offensive operations” against armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The council adopted a resolution on Thursday and established the so-called Intervention Brigade. This is the first time the UN has given its troops an offensive mandate.

Soldiers from Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa will be deployed to Congo by July as part of the new brigade.

The existing 20,000 UN peacekeeping troops have been criticized as ineffective in putting an end to the country’s two-decade long war.

In February, 11 African countries signed a UN-brokered deal to end the crisis in the east of the country, leading to the establishment of the special UN intervention brigade.

Several armed groups, including the March 23 movement (M23), are active in the east of Congo and fighting for control over the country’s vast mineral resources.

The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest at alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.

Since early May 2012, nearly three million people have fled their homes in eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.

By Agencies

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