IF UN forces take a tough
line in intervening between rebels and government forces in the
Democratic Republic of Congo, it could put both civilians and aid
workers at risk, relief organisations said this week.
In a new tactic, the UN
has sent a 3000-strong brigade to the eastern region of the
country, with instruct-tions to "neutralise" armed groups in a
security zone established around Goma, the capital of North Kivu
province. The US has given fighters 48 hours to disarm.
A spokesman for the UN
peacekeeping force MONUSCO, Charles Bambara, said that it was a
test "to see how this kind of force could help in protecting
civilians . . . the key mission for all peacekeeping operations. It
will act as a deterrent force, and be another tool to help bring
about peace, alongside efforts to reach a negotiated settlement of
humanitarian director, Nick Guttman, said: "The danger is that our
partner staff will not be able to operate as freely as they can do,
because they may be perceived to be linked with the [brigade] . . .
and we'll potentially be targeted."
Tariq Riebl, Oxfam's
humanitarian programme co-ordinator in Congo, said: "The UN must
ensure that its operations do not make a bad situation much
But Yvon Edoumou, a UN
spokesman in Congo said: "So far the brigade has not impacted on
our ability to deliver food, aid, water, medicine. Let's see what
This week, Christian Aid
reported that new fighting north of Goma had forced more than 4200
people to flee. In addition, recent attacks by another rebel group,
the ADF-Nalu, around Beni, North Kivu, caused an estimated 66,000
people to flee into Uganda.
The Christian Aid senior policy and advocacy officer, Chantal
Daniels, said: "The impact of the current fighting on local
populations and displaced people close to the front lines is