What should the world do to help Congo?

November 1, 2008

Another bout of bloody clashes between Congolese Tutsi rebels and government forces, accompanied by vicious looting has sent the hapless civilians of eastern Congo’s North Kivu province once again running for their lives. Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting, bringing to nearly 1 million the number of people displaced by fighting in North Kivu alone since Congo’s first ever democratic elections two years ago.

The fighting on the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda has triggered the usual round of recriminations between the two countries’ governments. Foreign envoys are jetting back and forth between Kinshasa and Kigali. The United Nations and European Union are both considering sending in extra troops to help the U.N. peacekeeping force, already the world’s biggest at 17,000-strong.

But nobody seems really sure how to stop the violence, end the misery and secure lasting peace for the people of North Kivu.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband are due to meet Congolese President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa today (Saturday) and travel to the eastern city of Goma, threatened by an offensive by Tutsi rebels this week.

What can be done to end eastern Congo’s vicious circle of violence? Who, if anyone, holds the key to regional peace in Africa’s Great Lakes? And should the United Nations, or the European Union, send more troops to stop the fighting and help stem the humanitarian disaster?

25 comments

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The key to ending the war in the east of DRC is to convince the war monger president Paul Kagame of Rwanda that having good relations with Congo is vital for his country.

Rwanda might denied it is in DRC but history tells us that whenever Rwanda had sent it’s troops in DRC it starts by denying first until their objectives have been achieved. This was the case in 1996 war against Mobutu, in 1998 war against Laurent Kabila and now the war against a democratically elected government.

Rwanda uses the upper hand it has in military over the DRC which has no real army since Mobutu destroyed his army for fear if strong it would chase him from power, to make sure DRC never manages to build a proper force.
Politically the argument that Nkunda is protecting his tribesmen against hutus is fundamentally flawed. If it was genuine Nkunda would have joined the army and together they could have made sure that threat is removed, he consistently refused to so on orders from Kigali. There is no such a thing as Nkunda forces; these are Rwandan defense forces soldiers who are fighting in the Kivu.

What the DRC needs to do, is to ally it self with a country militarily strong like Angola and France to diffuse and discourage Kigali form thinking the only way to solve problem is through force. It should sign protection treaty with such a country since it has literally no army of it’s own to deter Rwanda’s dream of keeping the people of Congo from their much loved peace.
Nkunda or Rwanda will never negotiate; you can’t negotiate if you are in a position of force. This is why Congo needs to be in a similar position to negotiate.
You can never build a country which has a neighbor like Rwanda and has no real military protection; all your efforts will be ruined.

Posted by Paul Lwaboshi | Report as abusive

The situation in north Kivu will never be calm as long as the genocide forces(Hutu Militia and Former soldiers)of Rwanda are repatriated and convicted in kigali.This is by far the best way to solve the crisis.President Kabila has categorically refused pressure from kigali, and has allegedly armed those forces against Tsutsi commmunities in Congo and on Rwanda government.

The DR Congo remains an unstable and probably ill-governed state, which allows its neighbors, and Rwanda has been a recurrent culprit, to interfere in its border regions and occasionally to help themselves to its ressources. Civilian populations have been the usual victims of this free for all.

As long as the DR Congo is a failing state the populations will not be safe and as long as the neighbor states selfishly take advantage of this while aiming for regional power there will be constant interference and encroachments. In other words, this is primarily a problem that Africans, and especially their political leaders, have failed to resolve themselves. In a large part, these leaders are, saddly to say, part of the problem, and they exist in systems in which they are unaccountable to the African populations.

In these conditions, even if humanitarian interventions appear necessary, it doesn’t seem that either the United Nations or the European Union, despite the possible contribution of forces, holds a lasting solution to this recurrent situation. The European offer of troops is unfortunately poor: EU states are reluctant to contribute to a temporary operation which they know full well will not fundamentally halt the conflict and alter the policies of the culprits; secondly, the forces available, in the context of other ongoing operations in Afghanistan and also Chad and Lebanon, are actually pretty thin. I am curious to see whether such a force can actually put together, while remianing convinced that as long as the African governments themselves don’t chance their policies, there will still be war in Central Africa and we will see more tragedies.

Posted by Paul Vallet | Report as abusive

General;Ankuda should be legitimate of his cause,he dosn’t come out with a clear reason why is involved in all those bloody atrocities leaving thousands of people dead, homeless and continuing to die.
Here it’s now left with the UN and the DR Congo overnment to wipe out the defiant rebels out of the region to save the lives of innocent people.

Posted by Abbey Boris Mugerwa | Report as abusive

There is no hope for the Congo or Africa any time soon…they can not govern them selfs and the U.N. is worthless and corrupt.

Posted by old ewok | Report as abusive

It will take a saint to sort out these problems. All of the people of Africa need to learn to live and let live in peace and equality. Religion will add another line for people to be on one side or another.

Those guilty of war crimes in Congo and Rwanda should be punished appropriately, taken away from the communities they terrorise. Additionally, all those countries who are happy to buy the minerals from the region should be blacklisted until they pullout. That will take money out of the equation. Their profits could be sequestered to rebuild the region.

I fear we will wait on a second coming of Martin Luther King, Ghandi, or both.

Posted by margaret lymburn | Report as abusive

The UN mission in DRC is a joke. The international community has to make some difficult decisions. Either it wants to solve the problem in DRC and take the necessary steps, which may include direct military intervention and a colonial type government afterward, or it needs to withdrawal and allow the issue to be decided. Why are we so intent on supporting the government? What makes them more legitimate than the rebels? These are question which the international community, above all the UN, is not willing to address.

Posted by Richard Fetters | Report as abusive

This is to all who Lead and Rule and Govern…or simply terrorize in the name of any of the above… in Africa…whether by vote or by force.

Sadly the international community seems to have long been indifferent to the goings on of East Congo… yeah there’s been endless lip service but really not even the massive UN forces in Africa today are necessarily mandated there to physically fight for the good of humanity, its more often than not simply a visible impediment to tyranny…an observe and defend themselves role …if the Congo were the 4th, 5th or 6th world oil producer possibly that indifference would be an energizer for broader economic movement of major user nations to help defend…but the apparent truth of it all… while uranium is still shipped in the dead of night from sealed mines for profit, while all the metals and minerals we read listed as the Congo wealth legacy….in article after article, are still dug out, smuggled over unmarked boarders and sold into the economies of the rest of the world with little or no restriction…it seems fairly clear… the world hasn’t the stomach to physically engage to sort this repeated African Tragedy…for the good of Congolese or African humanity. Imagine the jousting in the board rooms of the outer world….what… engage in humanity issues when the raw-supply-chain isn’t broken: where’s the profit in that…send more energy biscuits…!

There’s fingers enough to point at short comings in all directions in the Congo as well as elsewhere on the continent; historically cumbersome and geographically dysfunctional government systems set on path at the hands of many past paranoid regimes, far too many ethnically dysfunctional regimes who quite apparently haven’t learnt a damn thing from the catastrophic losses of life over many years past, the growing view of the little guy both from within and abroad that the so called unity-flame of Africa the OAU has even less stomach than the outside world to directly engage in sorting continental Africa issues of long term stability. One country after another, embroiled in debilitating conflicts…brought on by imposed economics, tribalism, external interference, regionally political dysfunction, lack of continental leadership and the underlining root of all that’s bad in the world….greed; all of which playing directly into the hands of international carpetbaggers taking as much wealth as humanly possible before the big African bang when they expect the entire place to implode into absolute chaos and calamity.

Millions upon millions of innocent lives lost and dying by the minute, economic plunder at a rate unheard of anywhere else in the world and criminal mismanagement of some of the worlds leading resources…hydro electric, nuclear enabling, medical advancement…and millions of the brightest professional resources to ever leave home and on and on. And still…nothing….no unified anger of African Nations, no unified call to arms to stand against continental tyranny either within or beyond, no unified anything. Shame on you…the defenseless African populations of countless countries expected far more intelligence and far more custodial leadership from you….and you’ve done nothing as a continental leadership…nothing.

I see Richard Fetters is questioning the legitimacy of the government, brother this government was democratically elected by the people of the Congo. On the other hand the rebels are highly unpopular and this explains why people were running away from the zones they were conquering. I spent some time in Congo and I can tell you without fear of being contradicted, there is nothing besides forcing the people, those rebels and Rwanda can do to make eastern DRC population to like them.

Posted by Roger | Report as abusive

the solution is very simple, to the congolese goverment stop helping those people who committed genocide in RWanda….c’mon what kind goverment would team up with genocidaires against its own population and don’t expect people to take arms ….. and mostly it is spreading hate against the Tutsi, u read newspaper in Congo or listen to radio it is unbelievable what kind message you hear, people go on radio advocating hate against an ethnic group and to see Monuc supporting this it is just disturbing, this is why the people at first were fleeing the rebels but slowly and surely people are starting to realize that they had been misled by their own government….. this is why we are seeing columns of people heading north in rebels held territories to their villages ,

Posted by chris | Report as abusive

I think the most urgent issue – who is selling arms (weapons of mass destruction)to militia groups in Congo and other parts of Africa. As long as long as the international community is not targeting the smugglers of war weapons to Africa chaos and crimes against humanity will continue to be a common scar in mother Africa.

African leaders have also failed to show committment to solve problems that face Africa. This is partly because several of them like Mugabe are committing crimes in the name of promoting democracy. We need African leaders of repute to speak with one voice against rogue groups such as Nkunda\’s.

Posted by ombati | Report as abusive

Why are other parts of the world expected to resolve undomesticated violence? Survival of the fittest. Learn defense or be defeated. We cannot make people live in peace. If they do not share rational or intellectual thought, they will not change. We would only be hurting ourselves.

Posted by GHS | Report as abusive

There is absolutely no proof that the Congolese government is helping Hutus in Congo or even if there is such a big number of armed hutus in congo. This has been an argument created but Rwanda to continually cause chaos in Congo and to destroy the Congolese dream of a better life.

Posted by Roger | Report as abusive

To Chris,
If Rwanda continues to cause so much suffering to Congolese, it is perfectly natural that Congolese will hate Rwandan and its leaders. You are not going to tell me that Americans for instance like Bin Laden and his supporters, why because they present danger to their people.

Posted by Roger | Report as abusive

Chris, you are amazing. People are forced to go back to their villages not out of their own willingness. These Tutsis rebels are destroying refugees camps to force people to their homes so that they ca paint a picture of normality and love from the refugees to their cause. It is utter nonsense to say that. I will be surprise if you are not one of them.

Posted by Roger | Report as abusive

pauline. hope for Africa lies from from within.We just need a generation of leaders who are ready to diplomatically deal with issue and not resulting to violence. violence begets more than just violence,

Posted by pauline | Report as abusive

The thing is that there is no Congo as a nation.
So called Congoleses priorities are: First me, then tribe, then province, finaly country. Any Congolese denying this is a liar and other nationals who deny this don’t know what they’re talking about.
Having a Kasaien fighting alongside a Katangais for a common goal is a very hard thing to achieve.

As for the “Hutu excuse”, one must be very naif to believe in that. Same with the idea that everyone else is set to destroi the Tutsi.

I do believe that most congolese hate them, but the reason is simple and known to all those present in Kinshasa during the first months of LDKabila rule.
Rwandan forces acted as conquerers, superior in every aspect to all others, african, asian or european. If people had any simpaty for them after the genocyde, they’re doing a fine job inverting peoples sentiments.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

The borders of so-call Congo are old colonial borders and the tribes living there don’t like them and need to left alone to decide their own borders. If the UN and all other outsiders would just leave the winners will fix the problems and we can then trade with the them.
The UN has been causing the problem for years by not reconizing that the people who live there don’t care for the leaders in the so-called capital who are hundreds of miles away. This is another of those no-win every 10 year wars that Africa seems to always have. Let’s just all go home and come back when the winners have something to sell and money to buy our products. http:://wwrutland.wordpress.com

The question should be, “What will Africa Do” because the west is constantly reminded to stay out and the UN who represents the world is, as always ineffective.Even images of innocent children who are lost and bewildered can’t move the UN(the world).

So those who have the most influence in Africa and that is Africans should start to do whatever is effective to stop the bloodshed and suffering. Please do something !!!

Posted by buffalojump | Report as abusive

hello!

DO NOT WANT SAY MUCH: but presume the answer to your question is simpe.

ANSWER: the effective way, the world can do to help the Congo is to get rid of EVILS like kagame and nkunda on the face of the earth. They are a bunch of criminals,willing genocide perpetrators and perhaps heartless cannibals.

So get rid of them and then we bet we will see a much peaceful world.

vive the great Congo
vive france, germany, spain and the true thorough justice we all craved for.

Posted by dely minda | Report as abusive

people should not think about it, just go and help, this is more than genocide. this is the nazi style of killing. they already killed more than 5 million, how much is enough to call it shameful genocide? if you want to wipe the all region why dont you say it. Rwanda is behind this mass murder, Kagame is protected by the big people. we are waching you and we have our family there to.

Posted by kitanga | Report as abusive

Africa is very far away from finding the solution for this lastest waves of war in Congo and if RD of Congo in this moment represents the worst state of affair for any country in Africa, it should say that this year’s turmoil in Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe and etc have highlighted the fragility of the socio-political stability that prevails in the continent.

But if we focus on COngo at this present time, anyone with awareness of the geo-political situation in this region would soon understand that citing the protection of Tutsis, or blaming the Hutus are pitiful excuse. In truth, these are proxy wars which have been present in Congo since its struggle for Independence.

Can the West and the UN help? It is unlikely as so far no one seems to acknowledge the role that French, British & American companies fighting for Congo’s Minerals is playing in this atrocity. Because, these same companies operating in these regions are the main arms’ providers for this war and it is irrefutable that such war creates instability and further weakens the negotiating power of the Congolese government.

But what of the African Union, well this institution is very much a very elitist body which is constituted by dictators would have little regard for the plight of the people and somewhat continue to keep a blind eye in the MafiAfrica which are creating unrest across the continent to focus African Minds on Peace and stability while sending a powerful mesage to African government that they have the might and power to do and undo their regime

In the short term, we will at best get another patch-up agreement, which may be the only way forward given the current African political elites lack the vision and belief of the continent as it should be. In the long term, Africans need Democracy and the freedom of expression to effectively offset the the argument of force, which is killing millions of innocents, displacing many millions more and further condemn the future of Africa to prolong poverty, disease, lack of education.
That said, things would only change for the best and long term if African politicians are made to realise that the African people and its needs matters. For too long, African leadership are relied on Western aid and have so forgotten or failed to realise that they should be about building infrastructure necessary to development in order to create the employments and hence taxation.

In the meanwhile, our demise provide a brilliant opportunity for some to win international acclaim by means of well orchestrated and selected snapshoots

Posted by Francis Ngale | Report as abusive

A web site calling for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo (known by its French acronym MONUC) to immediately arrest Laurent Nkunda to face justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity, has been launched according to project coordinator, Amede Kyubwa.

The web site, http://www.arrestNKUNDAnow.org , provides information about war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by troups under Nkunda ‘s command since 2002 . The website is also launching a petition calling on concerned people around the world to demand that MONUC immediately arrest Nkunda for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The U.N.’s biggest peacekeeping mission will soon be over 20,000 in Congo “must ensure that those responsible for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws are brought to justice” said Mr. Kyubwa.

Nkunda is accused of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity of which most cases are well documented by various human right organzations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In September 2005, the Congolese government issued an arrest warrant for Nkunda, accusing him of numerous war crimes and crimes against human rights. Human Rights Watch, for example, which has been calling for his arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity since February 2006 has documented summary executions, torture and rape committed by soldiers under the command of Nkunda in Bukavu in 2004 and in Kisangani in 2002. Also armed groups loyal to warlord Nkunda have been repeatedly accused of using rape as a weapon of war and the recruitment of child soldiers, some as young as 12 after the abduction from their homes.

According to Mr. Kyubwa, NKunda continues to be involved in the committing of crimes in DRC, and in particular in the province of North Kivu, where again groups armed acting under his command are reportedly responsible for killing civilian systematically in the town of Kiwanja. The continuing horrific killing of civilians testifies that Human Rights Watch was absolutely reasonable in its warning then in 2006 and it’s today. “So long as Nkunda is at large, the civilian population remains at grave risk”

The website http://www.arrestNKUNDAnow.org encourages concerned people around the world to sign a petition to demand that MONUC immediately arrest Nkunda for war crimes and crimes against humanity. For more information please call the project coordinator in the United States , Amede Kyubwa at (916) 753 5717 or email: arrestkundanow@hotmail.com

The answer to the qestion is theoretically easy: to send peacemaking troops, aid for people etc. Unfortnately – this won’t help – Congo (or, Africa) needs to help itself. No matter how loud Eropean/American governments speak – it’s still not their war, no real danger faced by their countries and also – not too much to loose… Yes, they can pacify Congo but does Congo want to prove them that they can’t cope with the independence they’ve gained not such a long time ago? Do you really want France to come back?
Salute!

Posted by beata | Report as abusive

Maybe because the US, China are making $$$ off of this war. US doesn’t go anywhere unless there is a profit to be made

Posted by Candy | Report as abusive