Tuesday, July 30, 2013

  • In Congo, Indian troops make up the biggest contingent of the biggest UN peacekeeping operation in the world.
  • The Indian army provides more than 4,000 of the 18,500 international troops who make up the UN peacekeeing force in Congo.

This makes it important for us to understand the region its the disputes......also internationally it is much discussed region.....here's a study of this region !

Understanding the Map of this region

Congo and Rwanda:  Timeline 

  • April-June 1994: Genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda
  • June 1994: Paul Kagame's Tutsi rebels take power in Rwanda, Hutus flee into Zaire
  • Rwanda's army enters eastern Zaire to pursue Hutu fighters
  • 1997: Laurent Kabila's AFDL, backed by Rwanda, takes power in Kinshasa
  • 1998: Rwanda accuses Kabila of not acting against Hutu rebels and tries to topple him, sparking five years of conflict
  • 2003: War officially ends but Hutu and Tutsi militias continue to clash in eastern DR Congo
  • 2008: Tutsi-led CNDP rebels march on North Kivu capital, Goma - 250,000 people flee
  • 2009: Rwanda and DR Congo agree peace deal and CNDP integrated into Congolese army
  • 2012: Former CNDP fighters form new rebel group, the M23, allegedly with the backing of Rwanda and Uganda

 To understand the conflict in Congo ...it becomes very essential to understand first about the Tutsis and the Hutu !!!

  • The bloody history of Hutu and Tutsi conflict stained the 20th century, from the slaughter of 80,000 to 200,000 Hutus by the Tutsi army in Burundi in 1972 to the 1994 
  • Rwanda genocide in which Hutu militias targeted Tutsis, resulting in a 100-day death toll between 800,000 and 1 million.
  • But many observers would be surprised to learn that the longstanding conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi has nothing to do with language or religion -- they speak the same Bantu tongues as well as French, and generally practice Christianity -- and many geneticists have been hard-pressed to find marked ethnic differences between the two, though the Tutsi have generally been noted to be taller.
  • Generally, the Hutu-Tutsi strife stems from class warfare, with the Tutsis perceived to have greater wealth and social status (as well as favoring cattle ranching over what is seen as the lower-class farming of the Hutus). 
  • The Tutsis are thought to have originally come from Ethiopia, and arrived after the Hutu came from Chad. 
  • The Tutsis had a monarchy dating back to the 15th century; this was overthrown at the urging of Belgian colonizers in the early 1960s and the Hutu took power by force in Rwanda. 
  • In Burundi, however, a Hutu uprising failed and the Tutsis controlled the country and it goes on and on in other adjoining regions

Why is D.R. Congo important ?
  • DR Congo is extremely wealthy - and extremely big. Similar in size to Western Europe, it is rich in diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt and zinc.
  • The country also has supplies of cottan, which is used in mobile phones and other electronic gadgets, and cassiterite, used in food packaging.
  • Unfortunately for the people of DR Congo, its resource wealth has rarely been harnessed for their benefit.
How was Congo  expoited  ?
  • This vast country has hardly any roads or railways, while the health and education systems lie in ruins.
  • Instead the natural riches have attracted rapacious adventurers, unscrupulous corporations, vicious warlords and corrupt governments, and divided the population between competing ethnic groups.
  • In the early 20th Century, Belgian forces arrived and enslaved millions, while King Leopold ruled the country as his personal fiefdom.
Independence struggle and unification of D.R. Congo -- >> JOSEPH MOBUTU's Zaire !!!

  • During a painful independence struggle in the 1960s, the vast country almost disintegrated as regions fought each other.
  • But  Joseph Mobutu seized power in 1965 and set about crushing internal rebellions and unifying the nation - eventually changing its name to Zaire.
  • However, Mobutu was soon seduced by wealth and once he controlled most of the country and achieved a level of stability and prosperity, he began using the country's riches for one thing - to ensure he remained in power.
  • As his rule went on, his plunder continued and the country gradually slipped out of his control.
  • The 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda hastened his downfall and helped plunge DR Congo into the deadliest conflict in African history.
Why did Rwanda's genocide affect DR Congo so badly?
  • Eastern DR Congo has porous borders.
  • After Rwanda's genocidal Hutu regime was overthrown, more than two million Hutus are thought to have fled into DR Congo fearing reprisals against them by the new, Tutsi-dominated government.
  • Among them were many of the militiamen responsible for the genocide.
  • They quickly allied themselves with Mobutu's government and began to attack DR Congo's sizeable population of ethnic Tutsis, who had lived in the country for generations.
How did Rwanda interferred ? -->> Kabila’s regime !!!
  • Rwanda's Tutsi government started to back rival militias, fighting both the Hutu militias and Congolese government troops.
  • The Tutsi militias, allied to other local groups backed by Uganda, eventually marched on Kinshasa and overthrew Mobutu's government.
  • They installed Laurent Kabila as president and he once again renamed the country - from Zaire to DR Congo.
The rule of Kabila and the war !
  • Mr Kabila failed to expel the Hutu militia and tiny Rwanda, which had put him in power, soon sent a new force to oust him.
  • Mr Kabila then called in help from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola, and for the next five years all six countries, and others, fought a proxy war on Congolese land.
  • All sides were accused of using the cover of the war to loot the country's riches.
  • More than five million people died in the war and its aftermath - mostly from starvation or disease.
  • Although the war was declared over in 2003, the east of the country continues to be unstable.
Entry of  Democracy ?
  • The first democratic elections in more than four decades, which saw the late Laurent Kabila's son, Joseph, elected as president.
  • But a proxy war between Rwanda and the Kinshasa government continued in the east until the end of 2008.
  • Notorious Tutsi warlord Gen Laurent Nkunda - who most analysts believe was backed by Rwanda - waged a campaign to destroy Hutu rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
  • He accused the government of backing the FDLR.
Change in the story -->> DR Congo and Rwanda join hands against FDLR !
  • A sea-change in the conflict came about in late 2008 when Rwanda and DR Congo joined forces to combat the FDLR in the provinces of North and South Kivu.
  • As part of the deal, Gen Nkunda was taken out of the country and put under house arrest in Rwanda - where he remains.
  • But the bitter conflict has continued unabated and Congolese government troops, backed by thousands of UN peacekeepers, have failed to defeat the FDLR rebels.
  • Reports of mass rapes, killings and other atrocities committed by rebels and government troops continue.
Rise of M23 -->> Bitterness between DR Congo and Rwanda...entry of Uganda in the picture 
  • The deal between DR Congo and Rwanda has also collapsed, with a new rebel group, the M23, largely made up of former Nkunda loyalists, becoming increasingly active in eastern DR Congo in 2012.
  • The DR Congo government has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the M23.
  • The group was initially said to have been led by Bosco "Terminator" Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on war crimes charges.
  • Its claims have been given credence by a UN panel investigating the conflict.
  • It says M23 leaders "receive direct military orders" from Rwanda's chief of defence staff, Gen Charles Kayonga, "who in turn acts on instructions from the minister of defence", Gen James Kabarebe.
  • It also says Kigali has supplied the M23 with heavy weapons and stepped up recruitment for the group - allegations that President Paul Kagame's government has strongly denied.
  • The UN panel also accuses Rwanda's regional rival, Uganda, of backing the rebels.
  • Ugandan army commanders "sent troops and weapons to reinforce specific M23 operations and assisted in M23's recruitment and weapons procurement efforts in Uganda", the report says.
  • Uganda has dismissed the allegations as "hogwash".
What is the UN doing to end the conflict?

  • The UN's peacekeeping mission has been in DR Congo since 1999.
  • It is one of the biggest peacekeeping operations in the world, with almost 20,000 personnel on the ground.
  • It is mandated to protect civilians and also help with the reconstruction of the country.
  • It has played a key role in organising democratic elections in DR Congo and has launched military operations against various rebel groups.
  • But a 2009 report by UN-commissioned experts said UN involvement had done nothing to quell the violence - with rebels continuing to kill and plunder natural resources with impunity, and claims that the rebels are supported by an international crime network stretching through Africa to Western Europe and North America.
  • And the campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has suggested the UN risks becoming complicit in atrocities against civilians.
  • In August 2010, the UN force was accused of not doing anything to stop the rape of more than 150 women and children within miles of their base near Luvungi, saying they only heard about the attacks 10 days afterwards.
  • The Congolese government has said it is now capable of maintaining law and order, and wants the UN force to leave the country.
  • To reflect its changing status, the force changed its name from the UN Organisation Mission in DR Congo - known by its French acronym Monuc - to the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission - Monusco.
Additional Reading !!!!
What is the Lord's Resistance Army ?
  • The Lord’s Resistance Army is a rebel group led by leader Joseph Kony.
  • The group originated in Northern Uganda as a movement to fight for the rights of the Acholi people.
  • The group has been fighting the Ugandan army for years and has been driven out of Uganda and is now scattered across Congo, Central African Republic and Southern Sudan, where it conducts brutal attacks
  • Spread of LRA activity = Uganda, Congo, South Sudan, CAR.
Why has the International Criminal Court  issued arrest warrants against Joseph Kony ?

  • The LRA under Kony’s command has been accused of abducting children and turning them into vicious child soldiers. 
  • Most of these children are abducted from various villages, those who do not cooperate with LRA has either killed or mutilated. 
  • The able bodied children are taken away and used as soldiers, weapons carriers, cooks, porters and even sex slaves.
  • Numerous attempts have been launched to reach a peace agreement with the LRA, but Kony has thwarted such attempts, however the Ugandan Army claims that it has weakened the LRA significantly. 
  • However the LRA has spread its tentacles to Congo where the MONUSCO is under-staffed and has had problems to contain it.
  • The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants against Joseph Kony and his men but he has not been arrested till now.
  • Moreover 100 US Special Forces operatives are aiding and advising the armies of 4 African nations which are pursuing the LRA.


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