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UN okays first-ever intervention force for DR Congo


08:41, March 29, 2013

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved an unprecedented offensive " intervention brigade" with a mandate to operate in the strife-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

However, while the enabling resolution authorizes the first- ever offensive unit, of 2,500 troops, to go after rebels by itself or with government troops in the nation's resource-rich eastern section on "an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent" for UN Peacekeeping Operations, it insists on a "clear exit strategy" before it expires in one year.

The special unit will become part of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).

Its objective is to counter the "destabilizing activities of the March 23 Movement (M23) and other Congolese and foreign armed groups operating in the eastern Congo," for violations of international humanitarian law, including "patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict" and an "increasing number of internally displaced persons in and refugees from eastern DRC."

The United Nations says almost 2 million people have been displaced.

In addition to the M23, the resolution listed the Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR), the Alliance des Patriotes pour un Congo libre et souverain (APCLS) and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in North Kivu, the Mayi-Mayi Gedeon and the Mayi-Mayi Kata-katanga in Katanga Province, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Orientale Province.

Additionally, the resolution cited "Rwandan reports of attacks by the FDLR on Rwandan territory."

Rwanda, just east of the DRC, had been accused in the past of aiding rebel troops in the DRC, but it joined Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, DRC, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), South Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda in signing on Feb. 24 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a UN-drafted peace and security cooperation framework agreement for the DRC.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the council's resolution saying it will better enable the world organization in its implementation. The UN is a guarantor of the Addis Ababa accord along with the African Union (AU), the International Conference on the Great Lakes region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Ban hopes strengthening of MONUSCO's mandate "will contribute to the restoration of state authority and long-term stability in the eastern DRC," his spokesman said. "He remains personally committed to helping bring peace and stability to the people of the DRC and the Great Lakes region and will keep working to ensure this remains a top priority for the international community."

UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous told reporters "The brigade will be out of the force of MUNUSCO and operate as a single command. Of course that will require additional enablers including helicopters that we are presently mustering. At the same time we are working with the countries that will contribute to the setting up of this brigade."

He anticipated three battalions from South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, an artillery company and Special Forces and engineering elements.

"I do very much think that today can be a significant turning point in the handling of this crisis which the DRC has suffered for many years," Ladsous said. "At the end of the day, it is about putting an end to the suffering of millions of people."

Ambassador Li Baodong of China, spoke to the council after the vote.

"China is seriously concerned about the worsening security and humanitarian situation in the east of the DRC and is deeply worried about the serious consequences this has on regional peace and security," he said. "We resolutely support the efforts made by the government of the DRC in maintaining national sovereignty, territorial integrity, security and stability and we commend the United Nations, African Union and the relevant regional organizations for their positive role in addressing the problems in eastern DRC."

"We hope that the MONUSCO will continue its efforts in communicating and coordinating with the government of the DRC and strictly abide by the mandate as conferred by the Council so as to make a greater contribution in helping DRC in achieving long-term security," he said.

"China believes that the peacekeeping principles of the UN, the three principles which include consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defense or in defense of the mandate, provide an important guarantee for the success of the UN peacekeeping operations," Li said, attaching " great importance to the request by DRC" and other regional organizations for deployment of the intervention brigade.

"China agrees to an exceptional case to the deployment of an intervention brigade within MONUSCO," he said. "Under the terms of this resolution, deployment of this intervention brigade doesn't constitute any precedent nor does it affect the United Nations' continued adherence to the peacekeeping principles."

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