A recent statement from Doctors Without Borders, known by their French acronym MSF, deplores the failure of MONUC, the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Congo, to protect civilians from the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA.
Commented Marc Poncin, MSF’s operational manager for Congo:
“The conclusion we’ve reached day in and day out on the ground, is that the LRA is continuing its unspeakable violence against civilians…U.N. Security Council Resolution 1856, from this past December 22, makes protection of civilians the priority for the United Nations peacekeepers in (Congo). The MONUC must therefore take up its responsibilities and can no longer continue to be so absent for the inhabitants of Haut-Uele (northeastern Congo) when they are being systematically attacked.”
Alan Doss, the U.N. envoy in Congo, responded to MSF’s critique, saying that it is difficult “to protect civilians against a group like the LRA and that (MSF’s) report did not reflect the reality on the ground.”
MSF’s criticism rightly emphasizes MONUC’s current inability to protect civilians. However, Doss is also correct that without the resources it needs, MONUC – which has been waiting in vain for the additional 3,000 peacekeepers promised by the Security Council in November – is unable to fulfill its mandate. This again highlights the need for activists, as well as groups like Enough and MSF, to put pressure on troop contributing countries to do the right thing and contribute competent forces, and not just beat up on the head of a UN Mission for having inadequate resources.