Crushing Rwandan rebels in DRC to take time, says UN chief

UNITED Nations Peacekeeping Chief, Herve Ladsous,warned on Friday in New York, that it would take time to defeat Rwandan rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo, because the group lived among civilians.

He said this has become imperative, aimed at avoiding a repeat of a 2009 humanitarian crisis, when the FARDC (Congolese troops) had undertaken military operations against the FDLR which led to absolutely devastating humanitarian consequences.

Ladsous said he believed Congolese President Joseph Kabila would imminently sign off on the joint Congolese and MONUSCO plan to tackle the FDLR, which includes former soldiers and Hutu militiamen responsible for carrying out Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

The FDLR failed to meet a Jan. 2 deadline to surrender.

“We need to recognise that achieving tangible results against the FDLR, this will require both resources and time.

“The nature of this armed group is that it’s very dispersed, it’s immersed within the local population, so it will take time,’’ he added.

Ladsous said the protection of civilians remains MONUSCO’s core mandated task.

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned this month that tens of thousands of civilians are likely to be forced to flee their homes during the planned offensive against the FDLR

Martin Kobler, Head of the UN Peacekeeping Operation, said the MONUSCO has finished preparatory operations ahead of a planned military offensive to dislodge the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

“Preparations are done, and the troops we are ready to go, our troops are pre-deployed and this is also the case for the FARDC,’’ he said.

Kobler said there were an estimated 1,400 to 2,000 FDLR rebels and that 18 temporary assembly areas had been established for those who wanted to surrender.

He said Kabila has told the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this month his army is ready to help peacekeepers fight the FDLR. (Reuters/NAN)

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