AFRICANGLOBE – United Nations aid workers and vulnerable civilians are under threat of violent attacks following a planned offensive by UN peacekeeping forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The offensive was planned on the back of frequent rebel forces attacks on civilians and aid workers, as a method of undermining or fighting local and international governments.
In recent years, rebel groups have continued to destabilise the Great Lakes region, undermining government efforts and causing intense humanitarian crisis.
The UN says a vigorous military response to the conflict was necessary.
A 3,000-strong UN “Intervention Brigade” has been authorised to mount military offensive operations against rebel groups in DRC.
But an advocacy group has urged authorities to consider that such a military offensive has the propensity to turn crushed rebels against aid workers and civilians.
“Unless certain safeguards are imposed, military action by the Intervention Brigade could further exacerbate DR Congo’s humanitarian crisis,” a statement by Refugees International warned.
Medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) stated it was very concerned by the UN’s military role.
“There was a real danger that heightened tension could lead to a targeting of medical activities,” MSF said.
The UN operation in DR Congo is already the largest UN military mission in the world. Its main mandate is the protection of civilians.
MSF no longer want any UN soldiers deployed near its health facilities.
The UN says more than 2.5 million people have been made homeless by the conflicts in the DR Congo – most of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu.
The UN Security Council created the Intervention Brigade in March mandated “to carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups that threaten peace in eastern DR Congo”.
The Intervention Brigade is commanded by Tanzanian Brigadier General James Mwakibolwa.
By: Konye Obaji Ori