Security Council Tells UN Mission In Dr Congo To Step Up Protection Of Civilians
New York, Dec 22 2008 3:10PM
The Security Council today told
United Nations peacekeepers in strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to prioritize the protection
of civilians, including humanitarian personnel, as the number of attacks on aid workers, some of them deadly, passed 100
since the start of 2008.
“As we pass this awful threshold of 100 reported attacks on aid workers in the DRC this year, I insist in the strongest
terms that all the armed groups operating in that country, including the national army, ensure the safety of these
essential staff, not least for the sake of the people they are desperately trying to help,” UN Under-Secretary-General
for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said in a separate statement.
At the same time, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Olusegun Obasanjo has
described talks he is leading between the DRC Government and a leading rebel group in the east, where an upsurge in
fighting has driven over 250,000 more people from their homes since August, as both difficult and encouraging.
In unanimously adopted resolutions the Council extended the mandate of the 20,000-strong UN Mission in DRC, known by its
French acronym MONUC
, for another year until 31 December 2009, and renewed until 30 November 2009, sanctions intended to stem the illicit
flow of weapons into the DRC and the illicit export of mineral resources that fuel the rebel groups.
The Council condemned the mainly Tutsi rebel Congrès national pour la Défense du people (CNDP) for repeated military
offensives which have caused massive displacement of populations in North Kivu province, and the illegal presence of the
mainly Hutu Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) which it said “represent one of the primary causes for
the conflict in the region.” It also denounced attacks by the rebel Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Orientale
Province and the resumption of hostilities by illegal armed groups in Ituri province.
It expressed “extreme concern at the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation,” condemned “the targeted
attacks against the civilian population, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and summary executions,” and
stressed the urgent need for the DRC Government in cooperation with MONUC and other actors to end abuses carried out by
militias, armed groups, and elements of the Government army, police and security services.
The Council called on MONUC, using “all necessary means within the limits of its capacity” and working in close
cooperation with the DRC Government, to make the protection of civilians, including aid workers, a priority, contribute
to improved security for the provision of humanitarian aid, and assist the voluntary return of refugees and internally
displaced persons (IDPs).
The Mission is to deter the use of force by any armed group, foreign or Congolese, coordinate operations with the
Government army’s integrated brigades and support operations led by these brigades to disarm recalcitrant local and
foreign armed groups to ensure their participation in the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and
The Council stressed the importance of MONUC implementing the mandate fully, “including through robust rules of
engagement,” and called on the Mission to strengthen its efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence, “including
through training for the Congolese security forces,” in light of the scale and severity of such abuses by armed
It also urged the DRC and Rwandan Governments to take concrete steps to defuse tensions and reiterated its demand that
all armed groups, in particular the CNDP, the FDLR and the LRA, immediately stop recruiting and using children and
release all children associated with them.
Reporting on the “dialogue” he is facilitating between the DRC Government and the CNDP, Mr. Obasanjo noted that the CNDP
had refused to sign a draft cessation of hostilities agreement to strengthen unilateral ceasefire declarations already
made by both sides and declined to recommit itself to its own unilateral ceasefire.
Instead it alleged that the Government army had occupied positions from which it had voluntarily withdrawn under its own
ceasefire. But investigations by mediators proved the allegations to be unfounded, Mr. Obasanjo said.
Both sides, however, confirmed their continued commitment to the dialogue and are scheduled to hold their next meeting
on 7 January.