Military solution failing in eastern Congo: crisis group
Kinshasa (AFP) Nov 16, 2010
A military solution championed by Rwanda and DR Congo for restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has failed and the region risks deteriorating, the International Crisis Group warned Tuesday.
"Two years after the rapprochement between Congolese President Joseph Kabila and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, government soldiers are still battling militias for control of land and mines," the Brussels-based organisation said in a new report, referring to DRC's Nord- and Sud-Kivu provinces.
After breaking off relations in 1998, Rwanda and the DRC renewed ties at the start of 2009 when the two countries launched a joint operation in eastern Congo against a militia leader.
But instead of improving, the humanitarian situation in the Kivus has deteriorated and violence has increased in a region plagued by various rebel and militia groups, the ICG said.
"Women and girls, particularly, have suffered the consequences of impunity and of a highly militarised environment in which rape is endemic," it said.
"Without a new strategy, the risk of inter-ethnic clashes, disintegration of the national army and regional destabilisation will become increasingly dangerous," said the ICG's central African director Thierry Vircoulon,
Eastern DRC has been wracked by instability for more than a decade due to the presence of armed groups who routinely carry out widespread looting, the rape of hundreds of women and children and murders.
earlier related report
But amid fears of a return to civil war, Ban told a UN Security Council ministerial meeting that the UN force could not prevent war if "widespread hostilities" erupt around the January 9 vote.
South Sudan and the oil-rich region of Abyei are to hold secession votes as part of a 2005 accord which ended two decades of civil war in Sudan in which two million people died.
Tensions have risen again between the two sides as troubled preparations for the vote move slowly ahead.
Ban highlighted "hostile public statements and accusations of ceasefire violations, which risk heightening anxiety and provoking isolated security incidents that can escalate in a wider conflict."
He said the United Nations was working with the Khartoum government and the South Sudan authorities on "options for a possible augmentation of additional UN troops to increase referendum and post-referendum security."
The UN force, UNAMID, also wants to step up efforts to "verify possible ceasefire violations and to protect civilians throughout the mission area."
UNAMID currently has about 10,000 troops in Sudan.
"However, the presence of UN troops will not not be enough to prevent the return to war should widespread hostilities erupt," Ban stressed, calling on the leaders of both sides to "refrain from inflammatory statements."
He said UN agencies and other humanitarian groups have contingency plans to provide assistance in case of "referendum related violence."
Ban appealed for international donations for the 63 million dollars needed "to pre-position humanitarian assistance near potential hotspots.
"We will also need to ensure access to the contested border areas," he said.
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Africa News - Resources, Health, Food
United Nations (AFP) Nov 16, 2010
The United Nations hopes to send extra peacekeeping troops Sudan to head off new conflict around a self-determination vote in southern Sudan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday. But amid fears of a return to civil war, Ban told a UN Security Council ministerial meeting that the UN force could not prevent war if "widespread hostilities" erupt around the January 9 vote. South Su ... read more
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