Members of the United Nations Security Council this weekend held talks with their African Union (AU) counterpart in the Ethiopian capital,
During the consultative meeting, a follow-up to two previous gatherings in 2007 and 2008, the Security Council and the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) “agreed to pursue their consultations on ways and means to strengthen their cooperation and partnership,” according to a communiqué issued after the talks.
The UN News Service adds they reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing collaboration in areas including the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in
Among topics discussed by members of the Security Council and the PSC were the situations in
The meeting at AU Headquarters today is part of the Security Council members’ week-long trip to Africa, which will also take them to
The Ambassadors of France,
Last June, the 15-member body visited
Meanwhile Oxfam, humanitarian aid organisation, is calling on the Security Council that is visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo today to press for urgent action to protect civilians.
Speaking on behalf of a coalition of 68 aid and human rights groups, Oxfam says the council should make clear to both the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUC) and the Congolese army that stronger measures to protect civilians are urgently needed during military operations against Rwandan militias.
“The Security Council gave the green light to UN peacekeepers to support Congolese armed forces in military operations in eastern
“But since military operations began in late January 2009, first supported by the Rwandan government and later by UN peacekeepers, these militias have deliberately targeted the civilian population in North and South Kivu in apparent ‘reprisal` attacks,” Oxfam says.
“The military operations were intended to end the attacks on civilians, not to bring more deadly reprisals,” said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher in the
“As the operations expand into
In a recent attack on May 9 and 10, dozens of civilians, including many children, were killed and many others wounded in Busurungi, in Walikale territory. Reports from local officials indicate the FDLR were the attackers, but due to the remoteness of the region the information has not yet been confirmed. A UN team has been sent to investigate the incident.
The coalition stressed that while the militias pose a grave threat to civilians, and are committing war crimes, the military operation against them, known as Kimia II, has contributed to further suffering of civilians trapped in conflict areas. Rampant abuses reportedly committed by Congolese army soldiers against civilians are exacerbating an already dangerous situation.
Since the beginning of military operations against the two Rwandan militia groups, 250 000 civilians have been displaced from their homes. Hundreds of women and girls have been raped, and at least 200 civilians have been killed, the vast majority reportedly by FDLR combatants.
The organizations called on the Security Council delegates to take effective action to:
— Ensure the development of a detailed and transparent plan for protection of civilians as part of military operations;
— Ensure that MONUC establishes and monitors clear benchmarks as conditions for continued collaboration and support for Congolese army
military operations, upholding its own responsibility to ensure respect for international humanitarian and human rights law in any such action;
— Urgently seek the deployment of the additional 3,000 peacekeepers, logistics and intelligence support needed for MONUC and authorized by the Security Council to increase its protection of civilians.
“UN peacekeepers face huge challenges in promoting both lasting peace and immediate security, but the Security Council cannot afford to sacrifice the protection of the very civilians it aims to protect,” said Marcel Stoessel, head of Oxfam in the DRC. “It`s time for the council to pull out all the stops, give peacekeepers the resources they need, and push for non-military action to be given greater priority than at present.”