Today Bukavu, Tomorrow Kisangani!

Sometimes this blog has an agenda, a strongly held point of view (sometimes?)—and sometimes we just want to display the world as it really is.

This is one of the latter occasions:

Anti-government rebels are making quick progress in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, cementing control of a strategically important town Friday and advancing toward the next potential battleground.

The United Nations, which supports the Congolese army, as well as Britain[,] have condemned the military campaign, intended to overthrow the government.

On Tuesday, the rebels gained control of Goma, the capital of the province North Kivu. At a rally afterward, an M23 officer declared the group’s military goals.

“We will push on to Bukavu, then Kisangani, and finally take Kinshasa and overthrow the government,” Lt. Col. Vianney Kazarama said to enthusiastic cheers from a crowd of several hundred at Goma’s stadium, according to a Congolese reporter there.

Kinshasa, the country’s capital, lies on the other side of the country, nearly 1,000 miles west of Goma.

Kazarama said that once the rebels overthrow the government, they will call for elections.

The United Kingdom’s minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, Thursday and immediately issued a statement saying “there can be no attempt to unseat the legitimate government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.” He called on the Congolese government to “address the underlying causes of the conflict.”

“I call on the M23 to stop its advance and to withdraw from Goma immediately,” Simmonds said.

Oxfam, which is monitoring humanitarian conditions in the area, warned Thursday that the fall of Goma to the rebels poses “a very real risk of complete collapse of state authority and the humanitarian crisis reaching new depths.”

No offense meant, honestly, but when has Congo not been in a state of “complete collapse of state authority”? Let’s ask the five million dead over the last fifteen years of civil war.

But keen readers will recognize another one of my agendas: the United Nations.

The UN’s failure to confront insurgents who seized a strategic city in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday has raised questions about its largest and costliest peacekeeping mission.

The blue helmets gave up the battle for Goma in the eastern part of the country without firing a shot, standing aside as M23 rebels – widely believed to be backed by Rwanda – overran the frontier city of up to one million people.

For the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, it was “absurd” that the UN troops had allowed the rebels to parade past them. He urged that the mandate of the more than 17,000-strong force be reviewed.

The DR Congo peacekeepers – known by their acronym Monusco – are authorised to use force to protect civilians and support Congolese army operations against rebel groups and militias competing for control of mineral wealth in the lawless east of the country.

They have been criticised before for failing to respond adequately to atrocities against civilians committed by the rebels, notably a mass rape near one of their bases in 2010.

Of course, the UN has a rather laissez-faire attitude toward rape (to put it kindly):

U.N. peacekeepers threatened U.N. investigators investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in Congo and sought to bribe witnesses to change incriminating testimony, a confidential U.N. draft report says.

The 34-page report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, accuses U.N. peacekeepers from Morocco, Pakistan and Nepal of seeking to obstruct U.N. efforts to investigate a sexual abuse scandal that has damaged the United Nations’ standing in Congo.

The report documents 68 cases of alleged rape, prostitution and pedophilia by U.N. peacekeepers from Pakistan, Uruguay, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Nepal. U.N. officials say they have uncovered more than 150 allegations of sexual misconduct throughout the country as part of a widening investigation into sexual abuse by U.N. personnel that has plagued the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission, U.N. officials said.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse, particularly prostitution of minors, is widespread and long-standing,” says a draft of the internal July report, which has not previously been made public. “Moreover, all of the major contingents appear to be implicated.”

That was back in 2004, and we’re still expecting these people to protect the vulnerable. How racist is that? Sorry, Africans, but you’re not worth protecting for real. I hope you’re not color blind, because those are blue berets you’re seeing, not green.

As Margaret Thatcher said, the facts of life are conservative.

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