The human cost of an ongoing military offensive against Rwandan rebels in eastern Congo outweighs its benefits. Although Operation Kimia II – a joint offensive by the Congolese army and United Nations peacekeepers – has led to gains in the fight against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, efforts to protect civilians during this offensive have been woefully inadequate. Since military operations against the FDLR began in January 2009, 800,000 people have fled their homes – the highest number of newly displaced in any African conflict.
In a new strategy paper – An Uneasy Alliance in Eastern Congo – published today, Enough calls on the Congolese government to take two immediate steps. First, it should suspend new offensive operations and focus on consolidating control over those areas that have already been cleared of the FDLR. Second, it should work vigorously with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, or MONUC, and international donors to put in place a more effective counterinsurgency approach that combines military pressure on FDLR leadership with greater incentives for FDLR rank-and-file militia members to lay down their arms and repatriate to Rwanda. Enough Policy Advisor and report co-author Colin Thomas-Jensen sums it up:
Kimia II has been the worst of both worlds for civilians: they face predatory behavior from Congo’s abusive and haphazardly integrated national army, yet are not protected from predictable and devastating reprisal attacks from the FDL. Reducing and ultimately ending crimes against humanity demands a revamped counterinsurgency approach and the resources to carry it out effectively.
Visit the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign for ideas about what activists can do to help end the world’s deadliest conflict.
Photo: Soldiers in eastern Congo (AP)