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Amid Congolese Chaos, NGOs Are Split on Nkunda, FDLR and Camouflage for UN Mission

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 27 -- As the UN Security Council is rethinking its peacekeeping mandate in the Congo, four non-governmental organizations came to brief the Council and the press with the true facts from the field. There was however a problem: they still did not agree about what should be done.

  Inner City Press asked the four groups to state their position on three central issues. Should Congo's president Joseph Kabila be pressured to speak with rebel Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda? Should the UN peacekeepers, as their North Kivu commander has suggested, shift from bright white vehicles to camouflage, to engage Nkunda's troops? And what should be done with the Hutu militias of the FDLR -- should they be attacked, repatriated to Rwanda, or relocated within the Congo and if so, where?  Video here, from Minute 25:18

   Sue Mbaya of World Vision spoke first and by far clearest. She said that "all active parties" should be part of negotiations. By this she meant, it emerged on continued questioning, not only Nkunda but the FDLR. Few others agree with this position, but it is courage in its way. As some NGOs will say, but only off the record, the FDLR fighters of today were mostly not involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. They are, if anything, the children of genocidaires. The sins of the fathers, is the phrase that comes to mind.

   World Vision Mbaya opposed the UN shifting to offensive action, saying it would only further confuse the local population. Human Rights Watch, at least through its Africa director Georgette Gagnon, offered ringing rhetoric but no direct answers to the three questions above.

HRW's Gagnon, with US in the back, responses like other NGOs not shown

   Oxfam's Charles Manpasu, on the other hand, said that what is needed is a force to make belligerents stop abusing the civilians.  Inner City Press asked, by any means necessary? He did not disagree. He said that while MONUC's current Chapter Seven mandate technically allowed the peacekeepers to attack Congolese national army (FARDC) soldiers who attacked the population, the peacekeepers often do not to this.  In fact, UN peacekeepers recently handed over 23 individuals demanded by FARDC fighters, as later admitted by the UN's Alan Doss. Video here.

  Also disagreeing with World Vision was the representative of Global Witness, who offered the reminder that many of the parties are guilty of war crimes and should not be legitimized. She spoke about nature resources, an issue Inner City Press later took up with the Belgian Foreign Minister, Karel de Gucht. Video here. We will have more on this.

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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