New Internationalist

Peacekeeping forces fail to protect Congolese

June 2011

UN mandate in DRC expires: 30 June

An item from the Agenda section of the magazine, where we look beyond the news curve with reports and comment on breaking stories.

Antony Njuguna / Reuters
Antony Njuguna / Reuters

Another year’s renewal of the mission is expected. However, despite this being the world’s largest peacekeeping force (some 18,500-strong), the first quarter of this year has seen a spike in LRA violence.

People across large swathes of eastern DRC live in constant fear of violent attack. Decades of war have shattered poor communities, who are forced to live without justice, security or access to basic services such as water and sanitation.

Between January and March, more than 100 LRA attacks were reported in the region, over a third more than during the whole of 2010. Across the whole of the east, where instability continues to cause huge suffering, more than 1.7 million people remain displaced.

Abau Adua has been homeless since the LRA descended on his village a year ago. ‘We were out on the river when the LRA attacked,’ he explains. ‘We heard the screams and the shouting. I saw 16 corpses, people beaten and stabbed to death. Two of my close family – my cousin and my nephew – were among them.’

Communities continue to live under daily threat of attack,’ says Marcel Stoessel, head of Oxfam in DRC. ‘The UN’s primary role is to protect civilians and to support the national army to become a stronger, more accountable force.’

One of the worst human rights offenders is the government army, which is poorly paid and ill-disciplined. In July 2009, the DRC government said there would be zero tolerance for soldiers who abused civilians, but elements of the army still prey on local people rather than protecting them.

Reform of the army needs to start with tangible actions concerning pay, the conditions of troops and impunity within the ranks,’ Stoessel continues. ‘There must be swift justice for perpetrators of rape, torture and murder.’

An election year in DRC, it is all the more important that the UN’s mandate prioritizes the most vulnerable and insecure areas of the country. There is a risk, experts say, that vital peacekeeping resources could be diverted to managing the election process.

Aid agencies have called on the UN to increase patrols in areas at risk of attack and to communicate more regularly with local people. MONUSCO must do more with the limited resources it has to respond to threats, and more resources must be made available to it.

As the UN reviews its mandate, it needs to move faster and more effectively to provide protection to people like Abau Adua.

Anna Ridout

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 443 This feature was published in the June 2011 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Peacekeeping forces fail to protect Congolese

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

  1. #1 Thomas Freitas 22 Jun 11

    the UN is not only failed in Congo but also failed in East Timor

  2. #2 niugini 22 Jun 11

    ’MONUSCO must do more with the limited resources it has to respond to threats, and more resources must be made available to it.
    As the UN reviews its mandate, it needs to move faster and more effectively to provide protection to people like Abau Adua.’

    How about going into more depth rather than just general ideas on what the UN should do? The UN obviously knows that more needs to be done if their presence is still required in the DRC. Two paragraphs saying what needs to be done without any constructive input are just a waste.
    Why not at least go into detail about the difficulties the government and UN forces face rather than just ’More!’.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Agenda

All Agenda

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 443

New Internationalist Magazine issue 443
Issue 443

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.