South 2 North

DR Congo: Peacekeepers at war

Can the UN intervention brigade bring lasting peace and stability to the war-torn country?

Last Modified: 27 Jul 2013 08:41
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No subject is off limits - Redi Tlhabi talks frankly to inspiring and intriguing personalities from across the world.

On March 28, 2013, the United Nations Security Council authorised a 3,000 strong "Force Intervention Brigade" to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - the first of its kind in UN history.

Many believe that the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC has failed. The conflict continues and by some estimates 5.4 million are dead, and hundreds of thousands of women are raped every year.

And fearing the rising death toll, the UN has broken tactic: the peacemakers are going to war.

But is this the way to create internal peace and prosperity in the DR Congo? And is it the way forward for international peacekeeping missions?

In a passionate and heated edition of South2North, Redi invites Ambassador Bene M'Poko from the embassy of the DRC in South Africa; American author Jason K. Stearns; and former CEO of Africa Liberty and civil leader Bernard Katompa to debate the past, present and future of the Congo.

M'Poko explains how the resources of the DR Congo have historically made it a target for external intervention, and that the current government needs time to recover.

"In 1960, the year of independence, we had less than ten college graduates - so it took a long time to send children to school, to build institutions and so forth ... But those institutions were weakened by the conflict - and the source of the conflict is resources. If this was a desert country some place with no resources, nobody would touch us. Nobody would be interested."

Stearns, author of the book Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo explains that the reason the DRC has recently been largely ignored by the media is because of the complexity of the situation on the ground.

"Basically epidemiologists tell us that 5 million people have died, but they have died in ways that are very difficult to simplify and to tell. And we don't care about things that are difficult to simplify and tell - especially when they're happening in Africa. So in the Congo, 90 percent plus of the victims are indirect victims of violence - in other words these are people displaced by violence who then died due to diarrhoea, malaria, pneumonia - far away from TV cameras."

Katompa believes that ineffective leadership and weak institutions are to blame for the sluggish progress in the Congo. M'Poko challenges Katompa pointing to the projected 8.2 percent growth in the economy.

"What is being said is not the reality on the ground. When you are talking about GDP growth, you have to see the base of that GDP growth. You're talking about 17 billion of GDP, and you're talking about 8.2 percent growth … Now you have this in an environment where there is no proper regulations in terms of the financial system, there is no regulation in terms of mining resources, no accountability … So you have a situation which is a pandemonium … When you are talking about economic growth, does that growth translate into a better life for your people?"


South2North can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 1930; Saturday: 1430; Sunday: 0430; Monday: 0830.


Al Jazeera
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