Jessamy Nichols, Africa Correspondent
Last Modified: 23:09 p.m. DST, 03 September 2013
DRC, Africa – Widespread fighting and instability are nothing new to the eastern side of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as it has been plagued by conflict ever since the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 spilled over into its borders.
The region, especially the area around Goma, have struggled to find peace since this crisis, and even the current issues can be traced back to this period.
The newest fighting is being caused by a rebel group, called the M23, who have been protesting the national government since April of 2012. The group is made up of members who were formally part of the Congolese national army, but mutinied to display their disapproval and disappointment with the national government that is led by President Joseph Kabila.
Since then, the group has made periodic attacks on civilians and government military forces, and in its most recent offensive, caused civilian casualties, widespread population displacement, and danger to UN peacekeeping forces (MONUSCO).
MONUSCO has practiced peacekeeping without force for over a decade now, but the M23’s recent actions have prompted a military response from the UN troops. With their new mandate, certain UN peacekeepers are allowed to fire first and use necessary offensive actions in order to force M23 rebels to back down and put down their arms.
This moved was deemed necessary as the rebels have been given several options over the last few months to meet their requests, yet they continually return to violence. They have failed to follow up with peace talks and ignored demands to put down their weapons.
Beyond M23’s responsibility for the chaos in Eastern Congo, the DRC’s national government and neighboring country, Rwanda, also play a huge role in implementing peace. They have been involved in the fighting and tensions since the beginning, and thus they must make it their priority to finding a lasting solution before peace can be found. Otherwise, once UN troops back off, the violence will eventually resume.
- UN peacekeeper killed in Congo fighting (rinf.com)
- UN launches strikes on Congo rebels (bbc.co.uk)
- DRC Welcomes ‘Action’ by UN Intervention Brigade (voanews.com)
- DR Congo: UN peacekeeper killed in M23 battle near Goma (congoayuk.wordpress.com)