This wednesday (November 25th), Oxfam met with UN Security Council Ambassadors to present over 6500 signatures from concerned citizens in more than 130 countries, all demanding an end to UN's disastrous support for the Congolese army's military offensive aimed at disarming the rebel group FDLR.
The conclusions from the UN Group of Experts report which was leaked today confirms what development organizations like Oxfam and human rights agencies working on the ground in Congo have been saying for months: this military offensive has been disastrous for civilians and has failed to achieve its own ends.
The rebel group's capacity to harm civilians remains intact and civilians face grave threats the UN-backed Congolese army as well. For every rebel combatant disarmed during the operation: one civilian has been killed, seven women and girls have been raped, six houses have been burned and destroyed and 900 people have been forced to flee their homes.
The international community, which has backed this operation, should have
the honesty to recognise it has made a terrible mistake. A mistake for which Congo's civilians are paying with their lives.
That's why Oxfam is demanding that the UN must work with the Congolese government to halt the operation now. A new phase of action must step up non-military means of disarmament. The Group of Experts report says that the FDLR rebels continue to recruit soldiers and receive arms supplies. Also, the international community has failed to stop the illegal trade in minerals, which is funding this most deadly war since World War II. Clamping down on this trade should be a main priority for the international community's operations in Congo.
Oxfam International's Head of Office in New York Nicole Widdersheim presents 6547 signatures to the Political Coordinator at the French Mission to the UN, Emmanuel Bonn
The UN peacekeepers (MONUC) must focus on their core task of protecting civilians not getting involved in an offensive that is making civilians less safe. The UN Security Council is set to debate and renew MONUC's mandate in the coming weeks. The leaked report and Oxfam's findings from the ground shows that the UN must impose and enforce strict conditions on any future support the the DRC military; UN support cannot continue as long as violations continue.
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