Sunday, June 8, 2008

Congo and MONUC

A UN Security Council team recently met with Congo's president Joseph Kabila, who said he hoped UN peacekeepers could leave by the next presidential election in 2011, according to the BBC. The UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUC by its French acronym) is the largest one in the world, and its record is mixed. On the one hand, violence in the eastern Congo between government and various militia forces, including some Hutu militias from neighboring Rwanda, probably would have been worse without the UN's presence. On the other hand, during its mission MONUC has not been able to prevent mass population displacements or what the New York Times in October 2007 called an "epidemic" of rape and sexual violence (see Jeffrey Gettleman, "Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War," NYT, 10/7/07, link). (One hopes this problem is less acute now than it was in 2006-07.) Maybe conditions will allow MONUC to leave by 2011, but if you're a betting person, don't lay odds on it.

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