Friday, January 11, 2013

US Ready to Send Surveillance Drones to DRC

US ready to send surveillance drones to DR Congo

Wed Jan 9, 2013 11:16PM GMT

The United States says it is ready to send surveillance drones to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to help the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the African state despite opposition from Rwanda and other neighbors.

"The United States does support the UN's proposal to use unarmed, unmanned aerial vehicles, for example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to increase the surveillance capacity of the UN peacekeeping operation," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday.

She also said that Washington supports plans to extend the use of drones equipped purely with photographic equipment to other countries.

"This would only happen with the consent of the country or the countries where the mission would operate, and their use would not impact in any way on sovereignty," she stressed.

The comment came one day after UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said that he had called on the UN Security Council to expand DRC operation by using more helicopters and surveillance drones.

19,000 UN peacekeepers are stationed in the DRC to restore stability in the eastern part of the country.

In late December 2012, the Security Council imposed sanctions on two rebel groups fighting in the east of the DRC.

The council unanimously agreed to impose an arms embargo on the March 23 movement (M23) rebels and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

The UN has accused neighboring Rwanda and Uganda of helping rebels in the eastern Congo, an accusation both countries vehemently deny.

Since early May 2012, over 900,000 people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. Most of them have resettled in Congo, but tens of thousands have crossed into Rwanda and Uganda.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.

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