Oxfam reaction to UN Security Council resolution authorizing additional troops for Congo

“More troops are needed on the ground immediately and the EU should respond.”
Juliette Prodhan
Head of Oxfam in DR Congo
Published: 20 November 2008

Oxfam welcomes the UN Security Council resolution to authorize an additional 3,000 troops and police for the UN peacekeeping force, MONUC. Reinforcements to the overstretched force are a critical part of what is needed to ensure effective protection of civilians, improve overall security and humanitarian access and create space for political dialogue.

However, this action by the Security Council does nothing to address the crisis immediately on the ground and should not detract from the urgent need to act more quickly.

The people of eastern Congo don’t have the luxury of the three – four months it would normally take to deploy the additional troops. Lives are at risk and thousands continue to suffer due to the intense fighting and rampant insecurity. More troops are needed on the ground immediately and the EU can respond quickly with its special stand-by ’battlegroup’ forces created precisely to respond to this kind of crisis.

A rapid injection of European troops, with a clear mandate to deter further fighting and help to protect civilians until additional UN peacekeeping troops arrive, could make a real difference to millions of Congolese and show the world that Europe is serious about living up to its “responsibility to protect.”

Deployment of troops must be combined with sustained diplomatic pressure to achieve a political solution and address the underlying causes of the conflict.

It must also be accompanied by better leadership to maximize MONUC's impact on civilian safety and mitigate against threats to civilians. Moves to clarify instructions and ensure consistent and robust implementation of the mission's mandate to protect civilians are a welcome and important step. However, in the present circumstances more is needed to de-escalate the conflict and allow space for humanitarian assistance and essential political dialogue.