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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How's that Hopey Changey Thing Working Out?

In January this year the Congolese army launched a new set of operation together with UN backing: Amani Leo (Peace Today - they really need better code names). Let's take a quick look at South Kivu to see how these operations are doing in terms of abuses against civilians.

I had missed this report by OCHA (the UN humanitarian coordination agency) - it's their February summary of the humanitarian situation in South Kivu. I know, sounds drab. But they have this great breakdown for security incidents. Mind you, this is just incidents reported to the UN. South Kivu is big, twice the size of Belgium or Maryland.

So, in February the UN recorded 1,444 security incidents, along with 13 attacks on aid workers in South Kivu. You might not be able to read the chart too well, but around 35% was extortion or looting, another 15% forced labor, around 30% violent attacks (rape, beating, murder, arson) and the rest arbitrary arrests.

Most notably, OCHA says this is about the monthly average for the last trimester of 2009. In other words, Amani Leo troops have not much kinder to the population of South Kivu than the Kimia II ones. Of course, it is too soon to tell (January was much more peaceful), but the early indications don't look good.

Keep a special eye out for the High Plateau of Minembwe, where the Congolese army has launched an offensive against the FDLR and the FRF Banyamulenge rebels. Congolese soldiers stormed into an MSF hospital and dragged people out at gunpoint a few days ago. MSF wasn't happy.


texasinafrica said...

Best post title ever.

And of course this was entirely predictable.

Unknown said...

It is even getting worse. I learned Philip Lancaster, ex-DDDRR chief with MONUC and ex-MINUAR aid to Dallaire during the Rwandan horror of 1994, is returning in the region as the Coordinator of UN Group of Experts to the DRC, replacing the disgraced Dinesh. One may remember that early last year Philip Lancaster was given a week by the DRC government to pack his things and get out DRC after he was found serving his own interests and teaming up with Rakiya Omaar to sabotage the disarmament process. It is going to be interesting. My question:
Is Philip Lancaster going to be welcomed in the DRC? What is he going to uncover that he didn't when he had MONUC resources? Dinesh is a thousand times better. At least Dinesh doesn't have colonial behaviors and is more intelligent.
So, for the UN, the more the failures and incompetence, the higher the reward as along as it is Africa. Africa, Africa, Africa!!!

Unknown said...

I would hesitate before drawing conclusions from this data. If there were really ‘only’ 60 reported rapes and 33 murders in February (if one can say ‘only’ in that context) as it looks in the chart, that would be a sign of real progress. That translates to 0.012 rapes per 1,000 and .007 murders per 1,000. By contrast, over the same period, Washington DC had 0.033 rapes per 1,000 and 0.010 murders, one of our best months in 20 years.

Last year, 5 territoires in S. Kivu were averaging more than 100 rape cases a month each. 60 reported in the entire province in February seems unlikely. If that were really the case, it would be a huge success, but the data has got to be incomplete

Jason Stearns said...

Yes, data is sure to be incomplete and I don't know how exactly they gather their information. The most relevant comparison would be with thier same data for last year, which is what I put in the posting. Even there, there could be wild inaccuracies. Unfortunately, this is often what we are stuck with in terms of data.

Jason Stearns said...

James, I encourage vibrant debate in this space but not unfounded allegations. Dinesh Mahtani was an exemplary coordinator of the group of experts and Philip Lancaster, also a respected UN official, was never asked to leave the Congo.

Please limit yourself to respectful and constructive comments.

Unknown said...

you may not like what I say, but it is the truth. The DRC Government, through the Conseiller Special, requested that Philip Lancaster leave the DRC when he tried to sabotage the Kisangani-Kasiki disarmament process. Philip Lancaster was angry that the process was not initiated by him (the DDDRR section of MONUC), but the DRC Government, Sant'Egidio Community and Eglise du Christ au Congo (ECC). I debated enough on Dinesh and made a promise to leave him alone. My point on Dinesh's role can be summarized as follows: Targeting family members for sending a small amount of money to their refugees relatives and accusing them of funding war, when Paul Kagame, the real culprit of the holocaust of the Congolese people is not mentioned has left a bad taste in the mouth of people, especially the Congolese. As I said, it is a heavy badge on the conscience of Dinesh. I stop here regarding the two individuals. May they be blessed in their respectability. Regarding constructive comments: ask Paul Kagame to leave the Congolese alone and stop his massacres.

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