DR Congo

DRC, KIVU: NEW MILITARY CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO FOLLOW-UP ON "KIMIA 2"

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The Congolese army and the UN peacekeeping forces in DR Congo (MONUC) will launch, 'Amani Leo' ('peace now' in Swahili) a new three-month long campaign in North and South Kivu. The new campaign comes on the heels of the controversial "Kimia 2" which tried to defeat the "Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda" (FDLR) guerrilla last May. The FDLR is largely made up by former Rwandan Hutus who fled Rwanda in 1994 fearing a reprisal after the genocide. The military command said that that 'Kimia 2' managed to kill, capture or repel some 50,000 FDLR members. 'Amani Leo' aims to consolidate the war against the FDLR while focusing on 'human rights'. Kimia 2 prompted many criticisms by humanitarian and ecclesiastic groups which do not share the government's enthusiasm for the military actions; indeed, such civil society groups have often condemned the violations and violence to which the civilian population in the areas affected by the conflict had to endure. The intensity of the military action has not allowed peace or stability for the local population to return, while many civilians have been forced to abandon their homes in very precarious humanitarian conditions. Moreover, the regular Congolese army has also been accused of having perpetrated abuses against civilians - the army includes many former guerrillas, which are said to be 're-integrated, who in reality, seldom are. [AB]