Thursday, August 28, 2003

DRC: EU troops will stay on two weeks longer

Here's a bit of good news. French-led EU troops will remain in Bunia until September 15 to allow the UN to get its peacekeepers in place (mandate was set to run out on Sept 1). Had EU troops left before the UN was ready to take over, local militas would have taken advantage of that vacuum to assert themselves.
The French-led interim force has succeeded in securing the town of Bunia, fulfilling the narrow terms of its mandate, so far without fatalities among its troops.

However, observers said there had been no real disarmament, although the EU force had banned visible weapons in Bunia. They also suggested that its clampdown on the Congo People's Union (UPC), the ethnic Hema militia group that seized control of Bunia earlier this year, may have worked to the advantage of rival militias from the region's Lendu majority.

EU officials said the mission - named Operation Artemis - had fulfilled its objectives in protecting civilians and easing conditions for humanitarian aid, but admitted: "The problem of Ituri is not resolved."