EU calls for 'true' force in Congo

Oct. 7, 2010 at 2:32 PM

BRUSSELS, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- A true national army is needed to ensure safety in the Democratic Republic of Congo, European lawmakers said in response to reports of mass rape.

Peacekeeping forces with the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, faced criticism after it emerged that they may have ignored early warnings before hundreds of women and men were gang-raped some 20 miles from their base.

The European Parliament expressed "deep" concern about the U.N. peacekeeping mission's inability to provide protection against human rights abuses near their base.

The parliament also called for the creation of "a 'true' and decently paid and trained national army, able to control the mineral-rich eastern region of the DRC," the governing body said in a statement.

Members of parliament "strongly" condemned the mass rapes that occurred July 30-Aug. 4 in the North Kivu province of the Congo and called for the International Criminal Court at The Hague to take up the case.

Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special envoy on sexual violence, announced U.N. and Congolese forces captured a leader of the Congolese Mai Mai militia they believe helped orchestrate the atrocities.

The U.N. Security Council was called on to consider targeted sanctions against the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and the Mai Mai militia for their role in the rapes.

MONUSCO launched Operation Shop Window in early September to ramp up security in border regions where the rapes occurred.

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