Close to 3 000 troops mandated by the United Nations are due to arrive before the end of this month in Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, in the east of war and poverty-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo to confront more than 50 rebel groups currently roaming the bushes, and causing panic among the populations.
It is believed that many of these groups are sponsored by Rwanda and Uganda to destabilise the sleeping giant nation, in order to loot its minerals.
But very few people on the streets believe that the special brigade, which is made of three infantry battalions, an artillery battalion, a special force and a reconnaissance company, will bring long-lasting peace in the east of the rape-hit provinces.
Troops from Angola, South Africa and Tanzania, among others, are set to be part of this special brigade.
Unidentified military experts, quoted by the Afrikarabia blog this week, said while the 3000 additional troops will ‘protect’ Goma and its surroundings and attacks M23, they cannot eradicate all armed groups in the region.
These experts believe the UN brigade may force some armed groups to disperse to other territories, more remote and less prone to attacks of the UN and the regular army.
Afrikarabia also quoted an NGO official as saying that the arrival of the UN brigade to the area will come to ‘add war into war’ and throw back thousands of refugees on the road, without solving the problem in the Kivus, which the official said was political.
Some observers believe that the brigade has only come to protect the embattling dictatorial regime of President Joseph Kabila, who has so far refused any kind of political dialogue many were hoping would take the stagnant nation out of the political impasse, and move it into the future.
Reports from the capital Kinshasa suggest that the government, which ‘secretly’ hit the road of Kampala this week to resume negotiations with the M23, has made it clear that it will not negotiate with anyone when the work of the brigade starts in the east.
For women’s rights activists, however, the arrival of the brigade could spell the beginning of another episode of gang-rape and sexual violence against already fragilised women and girls.
The DRC conflict has killed over 5.5 million people, and generated one of the biggest humanitarian crises in modern history.
Close to one million people have been displaced, 112 000 of these are living in camps and 800 000 others dispersed all over the region, and therefore not receiving any form of assistance, according to Refugees International.
*Photo by SA Army website. South African troops will be part of the UN special brigade in DRC.