OCTOBER 8, 2010: UN Admits Crisis Beyond Its Capacity

UN Admits Crisis Beyond Its Capacity

SOURCE: Catholic Information Service for Africa

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has admitted that the mounting problems in the crisis-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo are virtually beyond the capacity of the world body.

"We must be realistic," Ban told reporters October 6, according to IPS.

"Bluntly put, the sheer geography is too large, the number of peacekeepers too small, our resources too limited," he said.

However, he said that the United Nations is improving its civilian alert system despite enormous constraints in financial resources, personnel and military equipment.

"The international community must engage more fully with Congolese society to address cultural and political issues that contribute to this horrific pattern of abuse," Ban warned.

He said sexual violence was one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the DRC. Unchecked, it could destroy the social fabric of the country.

The rapes took place between July and August, mostly in eastern DRC, by some 200 members of three armed groups despite the presence of peacekeepers in one of the biggest and most expensive peacekeeping missions undertaken by the world body.

According to the United Nations, the known victims include some 235 women, 52 girls, 13 men, and 3 boys some of whom were raped multiple times.

"The size of the DRC is almost the same as West Europe," Ban said.

"We have only 18,000 soldiers there. So, you can just imagine the proportions of difficulties and limitations which U.N. peacekeepers [face]," he added.

But he said would not be defensive about the atrocities committed in the DRC, adding that the UN was committed to protecting the civilian population as much as they could.

The original peacekeeping force the U.N. Organisation Mission in the DRC (MONUC) was created in November 1999 and ended its mandate last June.

In July, the Security Council folded MONUC into a new peacekeeping mission the U.N. Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) as a result of the changing political and military situation in the country.

The mandate of the new mission is to protect civilians and consolidate peace. The authorised strength of MONUSCO was 22,000 peacekeepers, but it has fallen short by over 4,000.

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