Lt Gen Carlos Santos Cruz: We will go after those who are committing crimes against the population
Goma, 12 June 2013 – The newly-appointed Force Commander to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) is currently touring the different provinces of the country to acquaint himself with the security situation on the ground, and also to meet with his troops as well as with the UN staff and the local authorities. While visiting Goma this week, he took a question from a journalist, and had this to say.
Stephanie Aglietti (AFP/RFI) - I would like to know the exact date of the first field operations of the Brigade [Force Intervention Brigade]. Also, do you think that the negotiations in Kampala might have an impact on the Brigade's mandate and missions? Do you still plan to target the M23, which is clearly mentioned in the Resolution 2098?
Concerning the FIB, as you know, we are still deploying the troops and bringing the equipment. So far we have reached 40% of our operational capacities. We will very soon attain 65%, and late July we will be in full capacity to conduct operations.
About the negotiations in Kampala, it is very important to have a good and affective coordination with the political aspects of the peace process. We need to understand that the political option is extremely important. Everybody knows that the solution has to be political, and I hope that all actors will take this opportunity – the negotiations in Kampala – to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Obviously the military force is completely synchronized and harmonized with the political developments and actors.
It is very important to remember that we have a mandate which is very clear: the priority is the protection of civilians. We do not accept crimes or attacks against the population or against the United Nations. We are going to use all the tools in our hands to achieve this objective: not only our Intervention Brigade but all the means available to go after those committing crimes against the population. Killing, looting, raping, forced labor, and recruitment are crimes which are not acceptable. We will not tolerate them.
We will intervene in coordination with local authorities and the Congolese army to conduct all the actions necessary to stop this kind of violence and bring peace to the people of Congo.
To the question 'when?' the answer is clear: it starts now!
Transcript by Jonathan Lorrillard/ MONUSCO