UN trains Congolese troops in human rights for a better protection of civilians
A series of human rights training courses have been organized since last February by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) for the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in Beni, north-Kivu province. The trainings are mainly intended for troops engaged in military operations in that area.
Since the training began, at least 500 rank-and-file troops as well as officers from different FARDC units have been trained. The training modules relate to human rights, international humanitarian law, as well as conflict-related sexual violence.
According to Alain Abubakar Awazi, MONUSCO human rights officer in Beni, the approach "is to reach out to the troops where it is accessible to give this training" since these troops are in an operational zone where they are often engaged in war.
Regarding the purpose of the trainings, Mr. Awazi indicated in addition to the implementation of the Mission's mandate, there is the fact that "when there are large-scale operations as is currently the case in Beni, there are risks of increased violations of the human rights and international humanitarian law. It is therefore necessary to influence troops’ conduct about the protection of civilians”.
Such trainings have already been organized respectively at the FARDC headquarters in Paida, Oicha, Mambago and Beni, notably at the Mavivi civil airport. Other trainings are planned in Eringeti and Kamango. The first trainings phase was delivered in April and May 2019 for 163 FARDC units commanding officers in Beni, Butembo and Lubero.
FARDC believe the trainings have a positive impact on the troops’ conduct. “Most of the troops’ conduct on the ground has indeed improved and they do refrain from committing abuses. I personally received the training during its first phase; it is highly beneficial, " underscored General Sylvain Ekenge, the deputy spokesperson for the DRC army, in a press briefing organized by MONUSCO in Beni on March 13.
MONUSCO hopes the trainings will continue to positively impact troops’ conduct in enhancing their sense of respect for human rights and other aspects of civilians’ protection during the offensives against armed groups. ‘’This is everyone's wish,’’ said Josiah Obat, chief of MONUSCO interim office in Beni.