MONUC welcomes the FARDC communiqué marking the end of Operation Kimia II on 31 December 2009 and the commencement of Operation Amani Leo this month. Alan Doss, the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) presented the main lines of operation Amani Leo to the Security Council on 16 December.
The Operation's principal objectives are to protect civilian populations, clear strategic areas of negative forces, hold territory liberated from FDLR control, and assist in restoring State authority in these zones. The Special Representative also informed the Council that Operation Amani Leo would include preventive interventions aimed at stopping the FDLR from regrouping and attacking civilian populations and re-occupying major mining areas,.
Mr Doss explained to the Security Council that MONUC's participation in Amani Leo is intended to strengthen protection and consolidate and build on the progress made to-date against the recalcitrant elements of the FDLR. A directive jointly signed by the FARDC Chief of Staff, General Didier Etumba and the MONUC Force Commander, Lt General Babacar Gaye, defines the operational goals as well as the respective roles and responsibilities of the FARDC and MONUC in support of Amani Leo.
General Gaye stressed the importance of the cooperation between the FARDC and MONUC in the planning process for Amani Leo: "Joint planning is essential to map out the areas of risk and determine the most effective organization and deployment of our forces," he said. "Protection of civilians has been the central concern in our planning."
The FARDC and MONUC will concentrate on controlling strategic areas in order to ensure that armed groups, notably residual FDLR elements, will not be able to retake territory and inflict reprisals. The Operation aims at creating conditions for stabilization and re-establishment of State authority. Coordination between civilian and military components will be strengthened to stabilize these areas and create conditions for the safe return of civilian populations.
The FARDC and MONUC Force commands are engaged in intensive joint planning down to the tactical level in order to improve communications, liaison and planning throughout the Operation.
At the FARDC's request, MONUC will provide rations and other essential support to those FARDC units carrying out protection and preventive operations provided that they are jointly planned and conducted in accordance with international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, as required by Security Council resolution 1906 (2009). The FARDC and MONUC military commands have agreed to several measures such as the deployment of Military Police at the battalion level in order to prevent and sanction violations of human rights, international humanitarian and refugee law by their own forces. A zero tolerance policy for human rights violations will be strictly enforced. Other measures include the sensitization of military commanders and personnel to discipline and moral obligations and the responsibilities of the military hierarchy. Procedures are in place for approving and executing tactical support from MONUC, including fire support for jointly planned operations.
The operational directive for Amani Leo also provides for the identification of FARDC battalions that will benefit from a new training programme. The removal of child soldiers from all armed groups, including those who may have been integrated into the FARDC, is also reflected in the joint directive
The joint directive stresses the need for close coordination of efforts by MONUC's disarmament, demobilization and reintegration teams (DDRRR) and those of the military, as well as encouraging new options to secure further surrenders by FDLR combatants.
In this respect, Mr. Doss emphasized that "effective action against the FDLR on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also requires commitment from member States from whose territory expatriate leaders of the group provide financial, strategic and moral support to hard core FDLR commanders on the ground. Action is needed by States to fulfill their obligation to take appropriate legal and political measures to cut off the expatriate leadership from its base, and to prevent arms traffic and illicit trade in natural resources, as well as the movements of funds that aid armed groups in the DRC, in particular the FDLR."