MONUC pledges substantial support to the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC)
So far, I have yet to find an official report that confirms the LRA were responsible for the massacre that reportedly took place in a Catholic church on Boxing Day, December 26, 2008 [Ref Congo Watch Dec. 29: Terrorists used machetes, clubs and swords to massacre women and children in church near Doruma, DR Congo].
Scores of news reports quote CARITAS as a source of information along with various alleged eyewitness accounts on the ground.
How strange in this day and age of mobile camera phones that, just like in Sudan, there is no photographic evidence leaking out to the press. Something's fishy. We don't know half the story yet. More later.
From Inner City Press December 31, 2008:
UN Helps Congo Attack LRA, Can't Protect Civilians Then Disclaims Any Role, as in Kivus- - -
A UN-supported offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army has been followed by the hacking to death of more than 180 people in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. On New Years Eve, Inner City Press asked the UN's humanitarian coordinator John Holmes about the UN's role in the offensive against the LRA, with the Congolese army, and what is being done to protect civilians going forward. Holmes said that little can be done, since the UN peacekeepers' presence is limited due to redeployment to the Kivus, except to try to let the LRA know it will be held accountable. Video here, from Minute 36:40.
In fact, the UN has previously bragged about its logistical support to the Congolese Army for its attacks on the LRA. Now the UN Mission in the Congo, MONUC, is trying to distance itself from the results. A MONUC press release [see copy here below] on December 30 emphasized that MONUC " neither took part in the planning nor in the implementation of the operations carried out by the coalition against the LRA" but added that "MONUC will do everything in its power to continue to protect civilians, notably by bringing substantial support to the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC)."
Which is it? Does MONUC support the FARDC or "neither take part in the planning nor in the implementation of [its] operations"?
In fact, Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson has previously told Inner City Press that "MONUC supported the FARDC "with logistics, such as transport, water and food" and "has also helped consolidate and widen the airfield at Dungu, which serves as operational bridgehead for the FARDC and Ugandan troops"of the UPDF.
Now MONUC's press release states that "yesterday, 29 December, 105 troops were transported to Doruma and 60 more today. Moreover, MONUC committed to provide them with logistic support in terms of food stuffs, water, medicines, sanitation and fuel." So let's be clear, some say: if the FARDC troops commit war crimes, the UN has facilitated these.
Photo: MONUC in the DRC, looking past civilians
MONUC went on to recount that "Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, met today 30 December 2008 with the DRC's National Security Board, headed by the Minister of Interior Mr. Celestin Mbuyu Kabango [and] told them about MONUC's determination to support the Government's efforts to resolve the situation." What does "resolve the situation" mean? Assist in the elimination of the LRA's Joseph Kony -- the UN's own hand in extrajudicial killing?
Inner City Press asked John Holmes about the LRA's claims, for what they're worth, that the Ugandan Army's "Battalion 105" made up of ex-LRA fighters are responsible for atrocities to blame them on the LRA. How does the UN know it is the LRA? "It's hard to be sure," Holmes said, while calling the idea that the Ugandan Army might be involved "implausible." Those who thought that the International Criminal Court's Luis Moreno Ocampo should have also indicted some in the UPDF, or who are aware of the UPDF's UN-funded torching of huts in Karamoja in the name of forcible disarmament don't find it entirely implausible.
We know the Congo is big, but the UN seems to have a different relationship with the FARDC in the northeast, where it carries them around and cheers them on, than in the Kivus, where the full Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC Alan Doss this week "voiced his concern over the closeness of the FARDC and CNDP positions in Kibati. He also reiterated his appeal to the two parties 'to refrain from taking any initiatives likely to provoke new hostilities' and took the opportunity to recall to both parties 'the need for guaranteeing free movement of persons and their goods.'" In the Kivus, to the UN the FARDC is just one of two parties. In the northeast, the FARDC is the horse the UN has bet on, and carries to the race. Until things go wrong...
Press Release by MONUC 30 Dec. 2008
Haut Uélé: MONUC is taking action to protect civilians following the LRA attacks
Following the attacks of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels on civilian populations in many territories of Haut Uele district in northeastern DRC since 25 December last, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has declared that it is now taking steps to both protect and assist civilians in the area.
“Pursuant to its mandate, MONUC will do everything in its power to continue to protect civilians, notably by bringing substantial support to the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC),” said MONUC in a press release published on Tuesday.
In this regard, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, met today 30 December 2008 with the DRC’s National Security Board, headed by the Minister of Interior Mr. Celestin Mbuyu Kabango, in a bid to have a sense of the Government’s needs in this area. She told them about MONUC’s determination to support the Government’s efforts to resolve the situation.
At the military level, upon a request from the FARDC’s Army Chief of Staff, MONUC has already airlifted Congolese military troops to the operational zones: 96 FARDC troops have been deployed from Dungu to Faradje since 26 December last.
Yesterday, 29 December, 105 troops were transported to Doruma and 60 more today. Moreover, MONUC committed to provide them with logistic support in terms of food stuffs, water, medicines, sanitation and fuel. MONUC is also ready to assist the FARDC in protecting the civilian population against any possible direct LRA threat.
In terms of humanitarian assistance, MONUC’s Civil Affairs Section, while backing the reevaluation of the humanitarian access to affected persons and for a better protection of the populations, will continue to facilitate the organization of evaluation missions and assistance and will bring logistic support to UN agencies and NGOs, notably in Dungu where MONUC recently deployed two World Food Programme trucks that continue to be available for the distribution of assistance.
MONUC recalls that it neither took part in the planning nor in the implementation of the operations carried out by the coalition against the LRA.
The Mission also points out the 22 December 2008 Security Council declaration, which invited the coalition participants to ensure that any action is taken in respect of international humanitarian law; international human rights law and the international law of refugees; and to take appropriate measures to protect civilians.
UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon today condemned in the strongest possible terms the appalling atrocities reportedly committed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in recent days in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and southern Sudan. He demanded that the LRA respect all rules of international humanitarian law.
He also urged the forces of Uganda, DRC and southern Sudan on the ground to coordinate with the humanitarian community and the United Nations Missions in the region to ensure the effective delivery of assistance to those affected by the LRA attacks.