Congo’s Dangerous Crossroads

Congo’s Dangerous Crossroads

CongoLast week’s arrest of Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the deployment of an estimated 4,000 Rwandan soldiers into eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, as part of joint Rwandan-Congolese military operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, represent a major, and dangerous, crossroads. One on hand, this unusual collaboration between Congo and Rwanda could be a catalyst for fundamentally changing the dynamic of the war and ending the deadliest conflict since World War II.  On the other hand, it is obvious to all involved that Congolese citizens face grave new dangers ahead. The details of the operation already underway in eastern Congo’s densely forested terrain are murky, but if previous attempts to dislodge the 6,500 strong FDLR are any indication, Congolese civilians are likely to bear the overwhelming brunt of the violence. The international community must take the following urgent actions:   

  • protect civilians in FDLR areas by immediately enhancing the capacity of the U.N. peacekeeping force, known as MONUC, and by pressuring Congo and Rwanda to minimize collateral damage;
  • increase the desertion rate of rank-and-file FDLR through more effective and transparent disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement, and repatriation, or DDRRR, programs;
  • demand international military observation of the operations and a more clearly defined role for MONUC; and,
  • halt the impunity that fuels rampant atrocities by securing the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda and supporting the swift expansion of the ICC’s investigations into the North and South Kivu Provinces.

If, and only if, those conditions are met, the international community should consider assisting the operations in targeting FDLR commanders by providing intelligence and tactical support. 

READ the full statement and Enough’s recommendations for the Obama administration.

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