Now that French led contingent of 1200 soldies are en route, Kofi Annan is pressing the Security Council to raise the limit of troops that can be sent to the Congo:
For a chance at lasting peace in the region, Annan argued in a new 28-page report that 3,800 peacekeepers in Ituri were needed to disarm combatants, rather than the 1,700 expected to replace the French-led force in September.
”Even a force of that strength would not be able to provide comprehensive security throughout Ituri or secure all major roads or the border with Uganda,” Annan wrote. But he said he expected the troops to provide security for a host of other U.N. personnel to run radio stations and organize police.
Currently there are about 5,000 U.N. military personnel on the ground throughout the vast country as part of the U.N. Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUC.
Bangladeshi and other troops and others expected in August would to raise the number to close to 8,000. The Security Council has imposed a ceiling of 8,700 personnel and Annan now wants it raised to 10,800.
What meets the troops, regardless of how many are eventually sent, is what has been described as “Mission Impossible:”
Naming all the belligerents in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent history would be a good trivial pursuit question if the answer did not need continuing updates.
Take, for example, the Union for Patriotic Congolese (UPC). Just as the ink was drying on the all-inclusive political agreement, this group sprang into the headlines for the worst possible reasons its fight for control of the town of Bunia in northeast Congo.
Part of the problem facing the troops is that there simply are not enough of them for the task, another problem is the fuzzy mandate they have been handed:
The United Nations force in Congo (Monuc) of about 4000 does not have the capacity to deal effectively with the complex situation… A ceiling of 8000 troops has been authorised for Monuc but the UN has struggled to find nations willing to contribute. Compare this with the 18000-strong UN force sent to Sierra Leone in its civil war. Analysts say it was a simpler scenario there government versus rebels. The Congo conflict was regional and civil.
Monuc has also been hamstrung by its chapter VI mandate that provides for unarmed observers rather than “peace enforcement”. The allure of the Congo job has not been heightened by reports earlier this year of the slaughter of two unarmed UN personnel.
The UN emergency force is vital to contain the situation in Ituri. But its role, and that of a longer-term beefed up Monuc force, needs to be far wider than finding a military solution. It needs to fill the governance gap. It must put in place sustainable structures for maintaining peace and security and must be backed by thorough regional, international and multilateral support measures. Space must be created for the fledgling central government to prove it can be effective.
As long as military issues continue to sideline economic growth and investment in the Congo, and as long as the country is awash with arms and people ready to act as proxies for all comers, nothing much will change.
I’ll post more when I can find more.
you might want to change “describes” to “described”.