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.