The Congo: getting impatient

I caught the end of The Today Programme’s interview with Lord Malloch-Brown from Rwanda this morning, in which he talked about the ‘beginnings of a strategy’ forming on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It did make me wonder whether, given that conflict in the DRC has been going on for years and even this particular aspect of it in Kivu has been bubbling for months, we shouldn’t be a bit further advanced than that?

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s a hugely complicated situation (as the minister carefully described) that will require a strategic approach with a long-term view. But it’s hard not to be impatient. I have a feeling that the refugees nervously eyeing the unruly militia members (and equally-unruly Congolese soldiers) encircling them won’t be hugely reassured by the beginnings of a strategy. I imagine they would rather see the end bit, ie the implementation.

Not that the UK Foreign Office’s response hasn’t been impressive – David Milband was the first to fly out to Goma, now Malloch-Brown has followed. And the UK appears to be in full support of France’s resolution to beef-up the overstretched UN peacekeeping force, MONUC, with another 3,000 troops. They mustn’t stop there, though: the UK should continue to champion the cause of DRC with the international community, ensuring that the UN Security Council agrees to an enhanced MONUC force and pressing nations to commit troops and equipment, quickly – they could even lead by example (though Malloch-Brown swiftly dodged the question of whether British troops would ever be despatched).

Add your voice here. And add your cash to the urgent humanitarian appeal here.

If you’re in any doubt as to why more peacekeepers are needed, have a look at this piece on the New Statesman site about the horrific abuses that women are being subjected to in the DRC – and how the example of Liberia may offer a model for post-conflict reconstruction. That’s once we get past the beginning of the strategy, of course.

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