The UN have announced that the controversial Kimia II mission will end on December 31st 2009. Kimia II is a joint operation between the UN Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) and the national army (FARDC) to end the threat of Hutu rebel group, the FDLR, in the eastern provinces of North & South Kivu.
The operation has been heavily criticised for failing to protect civilians, not only from FDLR rebels, but from undisciplined FARDC soldiers. Human Rights Watch estimates that 1400 civilians have been killed as a result of Kimia II between January & September. Our local correspondent in DR Congo, Flory, has seen the effects of Kimia II on the local population first hand. On his recent trip to Fizu, South Kivu he spoke with people who had been forced to flee their homes because of the fighting, and heard stories of how the operation is causing further destabilisation in the region. Many people fear that Kimia II is acting as a catalyst for further violence - there are reports of Mai Mai militias forming alliances with the FDLR & child soldiers being forcefully recruited.
Despite criticism, and recognising that fact that the operation has had "very serious humanitarian consequences", the UN maintains that Kimia II has succesfully weakened the FDLR. However, fears of renewed conflict do little to help the work of local people working for peace in the region, as one person told Flory:
"the operation is stopping us from carrying out our daily activities. We don’t know who should we fear, the FDLR or the FARDC. All of them are against our peacebuilding efforts."