Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kimia II: pros and cons

Is Kimia II worth it? Consider the following figures that I got my hands onto today:

A MONUC official told me the monthly human rights balance for the Kimia II operations today. In the month of October, the Congolese army killed 70 civilians, raped 20 and committed 54 other abuses (ranging from torture to pillage and forced labor). These are just the cases recorded by MONUC. The number of incidents (144 total) is up significantly from September, when 46 incident were recorded. The worst commanders in North Kivu were Colonel Albert Kahasha, commander of the 21st Sector (this is where the Lukweti massacre took place) and Colonel Gwigwi Busogi of the 24th Sector (he's an ex-PARECO commander). In South Kivu it was Colonel Salumu Mulenda of the 33rd brigade.

On the other hand, I also got the MONUC DDRRR statistics. The numbers of FDLR who desert and return to Rwanda are up significantly. In October 2009, 198 FDLR combatants went home via MONUC, one of the best months this year. That brings us to a total of 1878 Rwandans demobilized since January - interestingly, this includes 477 Rwandans who were fighting for the CNDP. In addition to that, over 14,000 Rwandan civilian refugees have also returned.

So the Kimia II operations have put a serious dent in the FDLR. We don't really know how many FDLR are left, as we don't know how many new recruits have come in. Estimates for FDLR pre-2009 were between 5,000 and 7,000. So the above statistics mean that up to a quarter of the FDLR have been demobilized this year.

So is Kimia II worth it? Let's not get stuck in false dichotomies. As the Lukweti massacre report showed, many of the murders don't even happen during operations against the FDLR. There is no relation between the Congolese army killing civilians and getting rid of the FDLR.

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