The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Posts Tagged ‘UN peacekeepers’

Congo Crisis Background

Posted by sarahnics on November 8, 2008

The Democratic Republic of Congo is trying to recover from its five year long war, dubbed “Africa’s World War,” which involved seven countries and devastated the entire region.

The war officialy ended in 2003, however peace  talks seems to have had no affect on the rebel forces continuing to kill thousands of people, resulting in one of the worst humanitarian crisis’ the world ever witnessed.

The war is directly connected to the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994, where nearly 800,000 Tutsi and some Hutu were slaughtered by the Hutu government.

Rwanda’s post war Tutsi government then invaded Congo in 1996 to pursue the Hutu militia. Rwanda then installed the rebel leader Laurent Kabilaas president, who then started stirring up hatred for the Tutsi in Congo.

This triggered off the war which raged from 1998 to 2003, and involved Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.   

Peace Talks

In 2001 Kabila was assassinated, his son Joseph gained power and soon began peace talks, which are still in place today, but are on very unstable with talks of outbreaks of violence across the Congo.

The largest UN peacekeeping force is stationed in Congo with 17,000 troops, and the International Criminal Court in The Hague launching inquiries into investigating war crimes.

The task of keeping control in country the size of western Europe,  lacking even the most basic infrastructure and troops having to use jungle paths and rivers as their paths.

Also with dozens of groups, heavily armed, and some reportedly being backed by the Rwandan or the Ugandan governments or powerful politicians, it seems almost impossible to keep the peace.

Humanitarian Crisis

According to the International Rescue Committee, since the start of Africa’s War, some 5.4 million people have died from violence or war related illness since 1998.

Militias regularly target civilian men, and women, children and thousands of families are in a constant battle for their lives.

Aid agencies say rape is endemic in regions where militias are a constant occurrence. They live to brutalise villagers and loot, and the very old an very young are the worst affected.

More than 340,000 Congolese are displaced from their homes and have taken refuge across the region, although some are beginning to make their way home.

Sarah Nicholas (

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Congo Refugees Promised Help

Posted by sarahnics on November 2, 2008

Congolese refugees who have fled the fighting in eastern Congo have been promised help from the West, however the idea of the European Union sending troops in to protect civilians have not been mentioned.

Desperate people rushed from their homes to mob the French Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and the British Foreign minister David Miliband at a camp in North Kivu Province, where a recent rebel offensive triggered a humanitarian crisis.

The ministers were on a trip to assess what kind of help the EU could give to Congo’s government, the UN peacekeepers and aid workers in order to cope with the thousands of starving people.

Humanitarian Assistance

France proposed the idea of the bloc, sending 1,500 troops to Congo to help the existing 17,000 UN peacekeepers in their mission to deliver humanitarian assistance.

However while both Mr Kouchner and Mr Miliaband said a humanitarian operation was in process, they indicated the option of and EU deployment, which has previously encountered resistance from other EU members, was only under review.

Mr Miliband told ITN news, “I don’ think we’re here to discuss and EU force. We’re here to discuss the humanitarian situation.”

The ministers who earlier met with the Congolese President Joseph Kabila travelled on to neighbouring Rwanda to lobby with President Paul Kagame’s government to support a lasting peace deal in North Kiva.

Congo and Rwanda have had problems in the past, each accusing the other of backing rival rebel groups.

“Catastrophic Situation”

The recent offensive attacks by Tustsi rebel forces loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda, and killings and looting by Congolese army troops have created what aid workers describe as a “catastrophic situation” in North Kivu.

However a ceasefire by Nkunda seems to be holding.

While Mr Miliband and Mr Kouchner said pledged more European aid, refugees say that what is really needed is more security.

“We really want to return home. Food is not the problem,” said refugee Emilie Manigera in Kibati to ITN news.


Sarah Nicholas (

For the background article click here:

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