Friday, March 8, 2013

DR Congo: The rapists of FARDC.

UN in DR Congo 'army rape' ultimatum

18 year old Zawadi Devota at a hospital where she receives treatment for HIV that she contracted when she was raped. She was then shot in the hip during a raid on her village. An estimated 400,000 women have been victims of sexual violence during the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war. In the eastern states of the country a recent peace agreement struggles to keep warring factions from fighting, and as the chaos that accompanies war continues, so does the rape of women in the area.

14-year-old Asma Abdu (right). Two soldiers attacked and raped Asma when she was out looking for firewood in the forest. "When I want to cry, one put a gun in my mouth while the other raped me. When the first had finished the other took his turn. I thought they were going to kill me. After that I went home and told my mother. As she was also a victim of sexual violence, she knew what to do. "An estimated 400,000 women have been victims of sexual violence during the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war. As the chaos that accompanies war continues so does the rape of women in the area.

The photo's above are from  DR Congo: Rape of a Nation by Robin Hammond there are 90 photos on the site by Raymond. 90 short paragraphs that are representative of the brutality inflicted on the woman and people of the Eastern DR Congo by not only rebel militias but FARDC the army of the DR Congo.

Unless swift legal action was taken against the accused soldiers before the end of March, the UN said it would stop working with their brigades.
In December, it said it had evidence of at least 126 rapes carried out by soldiers fleeing a rebel offensive.
Armed groups in eastern DR Congo often use rape as a weapon of war.
The region's mineral riches have been plundered by numerous groups and countries over the past two decades.
Unfortunately I don't see anything happening and certainly not before the end of March. So should we assume that MONUSCO will stop cooperation with FARDC ? That to me seems very unlikely as well. The real solution to the problem lies not so much in threats of non cooperation but in the MONUSCO troops actually doing what we the world actually pays them to do. To protect civilians.  The UN is quite clear on who should be held accountable.
 "The practices of 'ethnic cleansing', sexual assault and rape have been carried out by some of the parties so systematically that they strongly appear to be the product of a policy. The consistent failure to prevent the commission of such crimes and the consistent failure to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of these crimes, clearly evidences the existence of a policy by omission. The consequence of this conclusion is that command responsibility can be established." 
This will not happen in the DR Congo.
'Shape up'
The rapes occurred in the town of Minova, to the south of the city of Goma which was captured by M23 rebels in November.
The UN investigation identified a number of perpetrators from within the retreating Congolese army and demanded that they be prosecuted.
"Since nothing sufficient has happened at this stage we have already put two units of the armed forces of Congo on notice that if they do not act promptly we shall cease supporting them," a UN official in New York said on condition of anonymity.
"They have to shape up."
There is absolutely no doubt that FARDC forces as they ran away from M23 rebels committed atrocities, quite frankly  though the UN were in Goma in huge numbers and did nothing to stop the predations of FARDC soldiers. 
The army brigades, which were not identified, depend on the UN for military support such as attack helicopters, the official said.
That is a joke as well the MONUSCO forces did nothing. Goma fell to M23 because the UN forces positioned themselves on the road into Goma from the north. The M23 rebels simply went around them and entered from the west and quite possibly from Rwanda to the east. Much as I despise  FARDC the UN MONUSCO forces deserve nothing but contempt for the callous way they abandoned the people of Goma and Minova. Ironically the M23 rebels by comparison seemed to behave with relative restraint. The worst incidents I read about was a bank robbery and the purloining of government property. When a government abandons its citizens to moan about the theft of public property is a joke.  
BBC UN correspondent Barbara Plett said the UN mission in DR Congo has a mandate to back Congolese army operations against rebel groups, but it is supposed to end such support if the soldiers commit human rights abuses.
The UN mandate also includes protecting civilians. I think we are nearing the point that the General Assembly of the United Nations needs to hold both the Security Council and MONUSCO leadership accountable for the continuing utter failure of the peace keeping mission in the DR Congo. 
It is a subject for another blog by a more knowledgeable blogger on the UN than me but why on earth do we include in the participation in peace keeping missions some of what must be the most corrupt and useless armed forces in the world. (The cold war is over ). When a UN force hits the ground we want people to be confident that that force will protect them and we also want the rapists  and criminals hiding behind uniforms to know that they will face justice. Summary justice if necessary.   
Last month, regional African leaders signed a UN-brokered accord to end the conflict, which may lead to the establishment of a special UN intervention brigade.
Let us hope against the odds that the AU brigade will install some backbone into the MONUSCO forces.  
Some 800,000 people have fled the most recent unrest which started last April after the M23 fighters mutinied from the army.
They mainly come from the Tutsi minority group and say the government did not lived up to its promises in a 2009 deal, which saw rebel fighters incorporated into the army.
Rwanda and Uganda have denied UN allegations that they are backing the rebellion's leaders.

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