In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) peacekeepers are trapped in the middle of the fight. Checkpoints are all over the North Kivu province and the UN personnel are not exempt from interrogation. The UN peacekeepers are forced to live with a precarious relationship with the various warring factions in the DRC, including the government army. The DRC’s current government army is just a conglomerate of merged rebel armies and so there does not exist a common identity. You never know who you may have to deal with at a checkpoint. Recently a rebel leader in North Kivu surrendered to the UN forces. Kabila has given the green light to loyal troops to engage and disarm rebel General Nkundu. The recent fighting between government forces and rebels probably caused the small rebel group of about 30 to surrender. The resurgence of fighting has also brough with it human rights abuses. From 2005 – 2007, over 258 cases of rape were recorded along with 14,200 cases of sexual violence. Less than one percent of these made it to court. The UN Independent Expert on human rights has called for an end to the impunity of sexual violence cases and urged Kabila to take up a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.
There is now talk of US military trainers coming to the DRC to train the mixed-up government army. A large Congolese delegation, along with President Kabila, will visit the White House on Friday to discuss the possibility. Is this yet another move by the US to gain ground over the Chinese resource grabbing machine? Will the US be able to bring together a divided government army? This is yet another great example of the US aiding the re-militarization of African countries. Well this case may be different I can’t see the US handling in a more focused approach of helping to create law and order in the security sector of the DRC.
In Sudan, we see the deployment of a UN-AU joint peacekeeping force. The force still lacks necessary equipment, notably from China, including specialized units in both air and ground support. A great step to ending a terrible conflict, but a step that I feel will meet the same difficulties as the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC. There are so many disconnected rebel movements in Sudan that it will again be hard to know who you are dealing with. In both countries peace deals had been signed to end the fighting, but fighting quickly resumed when rebel factions not associated with teh signing groups continued fighting. Somehow everyone needs to be brought to the table, but how? You have the government forces propogating a genocide and numerous, divided rebel groups fighting against the government and each other. The UN-AU peacekeeping force will be a help in Sudan. However in both the DRC and Sudan, peacekeepers will need to find out who is who and who speaks for whom if they are to broker a successful peace deal.