(Article changed on July 26, 2013 at 07:39)
(Article changed on July 25, 2013 at 14:55)
(Article changed on July 25, 2013 at 13:45)
Congolese Army (FARDC) MI24 helicopter gunships, piloted by Ukrainian soldiers from high altitudes, inflicted heavy civilian casualties near the village of Rumangabo in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday.
President Bertrand Bisimwa of the rebel M23 political and military movement said the attack on the rebel-held Rumangabo camp, 25 miles north of Goma, killed five civilians, according to the Washington Post.
M23 has provided photos to the international community that show many more casualties, many of them children. (The photos are too graphic to publish)
Rumangabo bombing by Photo provided by M23
Children by Photo provided by M23
"(The helicopters) have been over Rumangabo for the last two hours. It seems there have been quite a number of victims," said Emmanuel De Merode, chief warden at the Virunga National Park, which has its headquarters a few kilometres from the camp. He said 10 civilians wounded in the strikes had been admitted to the park's infirmary. One man lost his leg, and two children were seriously injured by shrapnel, he added. The rest of the victims were not seriously wounded.
Burial by Photo provided by M23
However, No major media outlet reported on an urgent press release provided by M23 spokesman Amani Kabasha last week that predicted this outcome. According to the presser, the United Nations mission in Congo (MONUSCO) allowed FARDC to occupy strategic U.N. positions at Munigi and Kanyaruchinya, which are located near population centers. In effect, FARDC was using the United Nations and the local population as human shields. "If we act, we risk doing damage," said Bertrand Bisimwa, President of the M23 political arm. "We may invite a war with MONUSCO." Bisimwa went on to call the situation "a trap," while international media interpreted M23's refusal to act as weakness.
"It is therefore a big risk for the civilians and the MONUSCO military base who have been placed by such a strategy in the war zone. The directorate of our movement has just been informed that during the attack conducted this Wednesday July, 17th 2013 by the government army using heavy weapons, the MONUSCO military base has been hit by the shootings which have damaged its facilities. Once again our movement condemns this deadly strategy which full responsibility falls on the MONUSCO and the DRC Army."
The United Nations working group on peacekeeping met last Friday to discuss the use of technology as a peace tool. However, the scheduled delivery of UAV's to the U.N. Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) in support of the national army of Congo (FARDC) suggests the use of common sense would be a more useful topic.
Why Are We Giving Drones to UN to Aid FARDC?
The question no one is asking is why the international community is providing military aid to FARDC. Why are we sending drones to MONUSCO while they are supporting FARDC's monstrous corpse desecrations of M23 casualties last week and the rapes last year of 102 women and 33 girls, some as young as 6, by US-trained troops? Inner City Press reports that the 391 st battalion was implicated in both the rapes and the desecrations. It was trained by the United States "as a model for future reforms within the Congolese armed forces," according to AFRICOM.