Each and every peacekeeper still needed in Congo, says Oxfam

By Oxfam

NEW YORK—Each and every peacekeeper is still needed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, international humanitarian organization Oxfam said today as the United Nations Security Council renewed the mandate of MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force in the country.

Though the mandate was renewed, the mission’s make-up is set to change. As many as 2,000 troops may leave by June 30 and the peacekeeping force will become a stabilization force on July 1. It will be re-named MONUSCO. The UN says that any further reductions of troops will be based on the security situation on the ground.

Marcel Stoessel, Head of Oxfam in Congo, said:

“Many parts of Congo are still extremely insecure and violence is a daily threat. Any reduction in peacekeepers could be bad news for ordinary Congolese, women and men.

“Congo needs each peacekeeper that it has, every pair of boots counts. While we’d like to see them be more proactive and effective in their daily operations, peacekeepers continue to have an important deterrent effect, particularly in eastern Congo. Some 162,000 people have fled from their homes this year alone, and in recent weeks UN reports have talked of more murder and mass rape.

“The Security Council needs to keep its word. It must ensure that any future cuts to peacekeeping numbers are determined by the security situation on the ground, the wishes of local Congolese communities and the ability of the Congolese army to protect its own civilians.  According to communities we work with, elements of the Congolese army, as well as armed militia, continues to be responsible for many of the abuses civilians face. The government has taken some positive steps to address this, such as its zero tolerance policy on abuse, but there is still much work to be done to reform the Army.”

Oxfam also stressed that the UN Security Council needed to develop clear indicators for assessing progress in army reform. These must include appropriate vetting procedures to ensure human rights abusers do not become commanders, training on human rights and ensuring that any wrong-doer in the army can and will be brought to court.

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