OXFAM: UN CONGO JOINT MILITARY OFFENSIVE CAUSING CIVILIAN DEATH


A joint military offensive by United Nations peacekeeping forces and the Congolese army is causing “untold death and suffering” among civilians, international aid agency Oxfam said on Wednesday. The U.N. mission in Congo, is providing logistical and military support for the army’s efforts to combat a rebel resurgence in North Kivu. It is also backing the army as it prepares to extend operations into neighbouring South Kivu.

UN CONGO“The offensive against the FDLR (Rwandan Hutu rebels) began a spiral of violence against civilians which has forced 250,000 to flee their homes and caused untold death and suffering that continues to this day.” said Marcel Stoessel, head of Oxfam in Kinshasa. The FDLR rebels are accused of carrying out the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed nearly one million people.

Congo’s army and troops from neighbouring Rwanda launched a joint operation in January against the Rwandan Hutu rebels, who are seen as a root cause of 15 years of festering conflict in eastern Congo. But following a Rwandan pullout a month later, the mainly Hutu rebels have stepped up reprisals against civilians and re-taken ground they lost during the offensive.

The 17,000-strong U.N. force has requested a temporary increase of 3,000 troops and police to help it deal with renewed fighting in the area. The U.N. force and the Congolese army are preparing to expand operations against the FDLR into neighbouring South Kivu, and aid agencies fear this could worsen a humanitarian disaster in the east where more than a million people have fled fighting since late 2006.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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