In a statement [press release] to the UN Security Council [official website] on Friday, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Roger Meece [official profile] urged the council to deploy an additional military brigade to help the "overstretched" peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Meece, the head of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) [official website], said that new threats have materialized in new areas, including the Maniema and Katanga provinces, and there is "a very limited opportunity to respond to them." He also emphasized the importance of the pending initiative to add an unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance capability to MONUSCO and thanked the council for its support of that proposal. Meece reported that the imminent formal adoption of the multi-year joint justice program between the DRC Ministry of Justice and Human Rights [official website, in French] and the UN would effectively complement MONUSCO's ongoing efforts with the military justice system in the fight against impunity.
The UN has been increasingly concerned about the abuses by both M23 rebels [JURIST news archives] and Congolese troops against civilians over the past several months. In December, a UN probe found [JUIRIST report] that at least 126 people were raped and two civilians were killed during violence in the region last November. A month earlier, the UN condemned M23 [JURIST report] for guerrilla attacks on the DRC and called for an end to all support of the group. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] also released a report [JURIST report] in September alleging that M23 had been responsible for numerous war crimes, including summary executions, rape and forced recruitments. In June, a leaked UN report [JURIST report] revealed that Rwanda had been helping to create and support M23 and similar rebel groups that have been known to violate human rights.