|Posted by Jacob Jacob on August 18, 2010 at 1:13 PM|
It was another sad day for the UN last Wednesday when three Peacekeepers were killed in North Kivu, eastern DRC. Seven others were seriously wounded in a pre-dawn attack by militias suspected to be members of the Mai Mai armed group in Kirumba. The attack took place in one of MONUSCO's Company Operating Bases (COB) - the 19 Kumaon Regiment in Kirumba. The base which has about 130 peacekeepers was attacked by about 60 militias with matchetes, spears and locally built guns. The militias attacked from the base's surrounding forests while guards were being distracted by a group of rebels who were pretending to be in need of assistance. The rebels succeeded in snatching away ammunitions and escaping into the nearby forests.
The attack demonstrates the unstable situation in the DRC. The UN Mission has recently entered a stabilisation phase, but the situation in the east of the country is still very dangerous. There are a number of strongholds controlled by armed groups. I think there is a fundamental error when the DRC's conflict is calibrated by the UN, aid agencies and the media as a post-conflict case. A post-war constitution and a democratically elected government are not enough reasons to re-calibrate a crises state as having entered a post-conflict reconstruction phase. The DRC case has again and again demonstrated this. Granted there is relative stability in the capital Kinshasa. But localised violence and armed group activity persists in the eastern region of the country - particularly in the Kivus. Technically and indeed factually, the DRC is still in a state of war. Africa's so-called New Wars never ends with the mere signing of a peace accord or election of a new government but by the ability of the government to control its national borders, enforce law and order in all parts of the country, demobilise all armed groups, create and support effective institutions of governance and justice. This is far from being the case in the DRC.
The killing of the three Indian peacekeepers calls to mind the difficult job of policing crises states and the danger of a hurried draw down of UN troops. Moreover, it questions the wisdom and intention of the DRC government in its demand for a pull out of UN troops. The DRC situation is still too precarious to risk a draw down of peacekeepers let alone ending the mission.