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DR Congo: EurAc - A European force could stabilise North Kivu

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After the capture of the Rumangabo military base on 26 October 2008, Laurent Nkunda's CNDP troops continued their advance towards Goma. On Wednesday 29 October, the Congolese army (FARDC) abandoned the city. Monuc neither wished nor was able to block the advance of the rebels, who halted at the edge of the town. A few remaining elements of the FARDC, out of control, set about looting and raping; at least nine civilians were killed during the night of 29 to 30 October. Since then the FARDC and Monuc have taken charge of security in the town. In the period between the capture of Rumangabo and the FARDC's withdrawal from Goma, the local population was involved in violent protests against MONUC. The fighting led to a new large number of people being displaced, estimated at about 200.000.

This dramatic turn of events happened concomitantly with the recruitment in Ituri of Congolese ex-soldiers by a group of officers from the former rebellion of the Forces armées populaires du Congo (FAPC). At the same time there were new clashes between the FARDC and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Dungu territory in Orientale Province, resulting in the displacement of 50 000 people.

Eurac, the network of European NGOs concerned with Central Africais gravely concerned about the risk that the region will descend again into open international warfare. EurAc reiterates that the establishment of an effective, disciplined national army is a key element to achieve sustainable security in Congo. This is why the network continues to advocate a speeding up of reform in the security sector.

In the meantime. EurAc considers that Monuc has an indispensable role to play in both the short and medium term, on the understanding that the political will exists for it to make full use of its mandate, implementing the operational guidelines in the resolution of the Security Council on 15 May 2007 which allow offensive actions against armed groups.

In the light of the present situation where neither the DRC armed forces nor Monuc have the capacity or the credibility to enforce compliance with the Goma and Nairobi accords on the ground, EurAc recommends that the European Union and its member states should:

1)Mobilise and deploy in the very short term a military stabilisation force : Such a force (a) would immediately reassure the Congolese people who have lost confidence in Monuc ; (b) would restrain those who are provoking the unrest; and (c) could make a difference in operational terms provided that it worked very closely with the FARDC and Monuc to disarm the CNDP and the FDLR. With precise terms of reference and a mandate clearly defined as to timescale and operational area, a European mission could stabilise the humanitarian situation and save the peace process. At present no alternative exists. In order to realise these aims, the military stabilisation force should be concerned not only with the consequences of the crisis but also primarily with its causes; the failure to respect the Nairobi and Goma Accords and the struggle to control and exploit the natural resources of the area, which are traded to provide funds for the rebels. EurAc is convinced that there can be no military solution to the conflicts in North Kivu; nevertheless, it must be admitted that no negotiated political solution can possibly succeed unless there is strong pressure on the signatories to the peace agreements to act in accordance with their own commitments.

2)Reconfirm the terms of the Goma and Nairobi Accords by diplomatic pressure (a) on Rwanda to prevent any support from its territory for Nkunda's rebellion; and (b) on the DRC to prevent any operational complicity between its command on the ground and the FDLR militias. We encourage every diplomatic initiative which contributes to put the implementation of the Goma and Nairobi Accords back on the agenda. EurAc also requests the European Union support and work to put into effect the Amani project by providing essential funding and by supporting its work in making its activities known, in mediation and humanitarian relief and by upholding civil society.

3) Activate and support the terms of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region signed in Nairobion 15 December 2006 by the heads of state and government of eleven countries at the second Summit Meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL). According to the projects and protocols drawn up in the preparatory meetings, the CIRGL proposes to help eradicate the causes of the cyclical conflicts and transform the region into a area of permanent security, political and social stability and equitable economic growth and development. There has been neither any follow up of the conference nor any implementation of the projects although the past came into force on 21 June 2008. Contributions from the DRC's partners to the Special Fund for Reconstruction and Development are vital if the Pact is to become a reality.

For more information:

Kris Berwouts
Rue des Tanneurs, 165 B - 1000 Bruxelles, Belgique
Tel: +32 (0)2 213 04 00
Mobile: +32 (0) 485 070 852
@: kris.berwouts@EurAc-network.org
www.EurAc-network.org