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UN Helps Congo Attack LRA, Can't Protect Civilians Then Disclaims Any Role, as in Kivus

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 31 -- A UN-supported offensive against the Lord's Resistance Army has been followed by the hacking to death of more than 180 people in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. On New Years Eve, Inner City Press asked the UN's humanitarian coordinator John Holmes about the UN's role in the offensive against the LRA, with the Congolese army, and what is being done to protect civilians going forward. Holmes said that little can be done, since the UN peacekeepers' presence is limited due to redeployment to the Kivus, except to try to let the LRA know it will be held accountable. Video here, from Minute 36:40.

  In fact, the UN has previously bragged about its logistical support to the Congolese Army for its attacks on the LRA. Now the UN Mission in the Congo, MONUC, is trying to distance itself from the results. A MONUC press release on December 30 emphasized that MONUC " neither took part in the planning nor in the implementation of the operations carried out by the coalition against the LRA" but added that "MONUC will do everything in its power to continue to protect civilians, notably by bringing substantial support to the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC)."

  Which is it? Does MONUC support the FARDC or  "neither take part in the planning nor in the implementation of [its] operations"?

  In fact, Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson has previously told Inner City Press that "MONUC supported the FARDC "with logistics, such as transport, water and food" and "has also helped consolidate and widen the airfield at Dungu, which serves as operational bridgehead for the FARDC and Ugandan troops"of the UPDF.

  Now MONUC's press release states that "yesterday, 29 December, 105 troops were transported to Doruma and 60 more today. Moreover, MONUC committed to provide them with logistic support in terms of food stuffs, water, medicines, sanitation and fuel." So let's be clear, some say: if the FARDC troops commit war crimes, the UN has facilitated these.

MONUC in the DRC, looking past civilians

  MONUC went on to recount that "Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, met today 30 December 2008 with the DRC's National Security Board, headed by the Minister of Interior Mr. Celestin Mbuyu Kabango [and] told them about MONUC's determination to support the Government's efforts to resolve the situation."  What does "resolve the situation" mean? Assist in the elimination of the LRA's Joseph Kony -- the UN's own hand in extrajudicial killing?

   Inner City Press asked John Holmes about the LRA's claims, for what they're worth, that the Ugandan Army's "Battalion 105" made up of ex-LRA fighters are responsible for atrocities to blame them on the LRA. How does the UN know it is the LRA?  "It's hard to be sure," Holmes said, while calling the idea that the Ugandan Army might be involved "implausible." Those who thought that the International Criminal Court's Luis Moreno Ocampo should have also indicted some in the UPDF, or who are aware of the UPDF's UN-funded torching of huts in Karamoja in the name of forcible disarmament don't find it entirely implausible.

  We know the Congo is big, but the UN seems to have a different relationship with the FARDC in the northeast, where it carries them around and cheers them on, than in the Kivus, where the full Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC Alan Doss this week "voiced his concern over the closeness of the FARDC and CNDP positions in Kibati. He also reiterated his appeal to the two parties 'to refrain from taking any initiatives likely to provoke new hostilities' and took the opportunity to recall to both parties 'the need for guaranteeing free movement of persons and their goods.'" In the Kivus, to the UN the FARDC is just one of two parties. In the northeast, the FARDC is the horse the UN has bet on, and carries to the race. Until things go wrong...

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

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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