The UN security force of 25,000, estimated to cost more than $1bn a year, has proved unable to defeat Rwandan Hutu rebels or to halt the plunder of lucrative minerals in the east of the country, according to a scathing report.
Among the most damning findings of the UN-mandated Group of Experts is the free rein given to known as "The Terminator", which the UN mission has previously denied.
The mission in North and South Kivu agreed to back Congo's army in an offensive this year against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), some of whose leaders helped to orchestrate Rwanda's 1994 genocide.
The experts found: "Military operations have … not succeeded in neutralising the FDLR, have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the Kivus and have resulted in an expansion of CNDP [the Congolese Tutsi militia National Congress for the Defence of the People] military influence in the region."
Despite the surrender of more than 1,200 of its estimated 6,000-8,000 fighters, the FDLR continues to replenish its ranks through the active recruitment of Congolese and Rwandan Hutus, the group said.
The rebels benefit from complex support networks in Africa, North America, France, Germany and Spain, as well as financing from their control of the east's lucrative deposits of gold, tin and coltan – a metallic ore used in many mobile phones and laptops – despite army efforts to drive them out of mining areas.
"The Group calculates that the FDLR could earn at least several hundred thousand dollars and up to a few million dollars a year from this trade," the report said.
The most aggressive operations against the FDLR have been spearheaded by former CNDP units hastily integrated into the Congolese army. Some are under the command of General Bosco Ntaganda, dubbed The Terminator, who is wanted for war crimes by the international criminal court for alleged forced enrolment of child soldiers in 2002-03.
Officials from Congo's UN mission, known as Monuc, have repeatedly denied Ntaganda's involvement in the operations, which it is backing with logistical and operational support including helicopter firepower. But the group found that Ntaganda had ordered troop deployments, established a parallel taxation scheme in CNDP-controlled areas taking in $250,000 a month, and centralised control of hidden weapons caches. His men were deployed in some of the region's most lucrative mining areas, which they now control.
Under Ntaganda's management, integrated CNDP units are accused by the group of experts of widespread abuses including killings, rape, torture, forced labour, looting and extortion. "Ex-CNDP units have also forcibly displaced large numbers of civilians … in order to find grazing areas for cattle being brought in from Rwanda," the report said.
This month the UN suspended its support to army units it believed were responsible for killing about 60 civilians in operations. The group of experts suggested this may not be enough. "The Group … underlines the possible contradiction within Monuc's mandate to protect civilians on a priority basis, and that of providing logistic support to the [army], while the latter continues to commit abuses against the civilian population," the report said.
The findings support the claims of NGOs that the UN military operations have inflamed the violence in eastern Congo, resulting in the displacement of 1 million villagers. This month Human Rights Watch said it had documented the deliberate killing by Congolese soldiers of at least 270 civilians in one area – mostly women, children and the elderly. They were decapitated, chopped to death by machete, beaten to death with clubs or shot as they tried to flee. Human Rights Watch called on the UN to suspend its support to the military operation or risk being implicated in further atrocities.
Human Rights Watch call for action with link to the report mentioned in the original article.
Human Rights Watch article on the trial of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is important cause it gives an idea of what General Bosco Ntaganda is accused of as well as more info on what he's been doing with the UN's help.