By the Independent Team
The UN peacekeeping department has asked the Security Council to back the use of surveillance drones in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
The UN wants to use the drones to monitor the vast eastern DRC border, where Rwanda has been accused of helping rebels fighting the DRC government.
Rwanda is opposed to their use in the DRC and other countries are also suspicious.
“We as Rwanda bordering on the Congo, we are maybe not in a comfortable position to talk about it because people may perceive it otherwise,” said Eugene Richard Gasana, Rwanda’s UN ambassador.
“But member states have legitimate questions on legal issues, financial issues on implementation of this.”
“It might have a precedence on other countries. We owe them a kind of explanation.
“It is about human beings, it is not about Star Wars. We need this new technology, but at which cost.”
Herve Ladsous, the UN peacekeeping chief, said he had asked the Security Council for the means to strengthen its DRC operation.
“So more helicopters, perhaps some with night vision, river capacities and then this question of aerial surveillance equipment – drones,” he told the AFP news agency. “I explained to the Security Council how necessary we think this is.”
DRC is already the UN’s biggest peacekeeping mission, with more than 17,000 troops. But the forces are spread thin in the huge country and the UN is under orders to cut costs.
Western countries have backed the UN plan. “The UN needs additional modern resources – in particular drones – to be better informed, more reactive,” France’s UN mission said in a Twitter statement.
UN officials say that drones could also be valuable in South Sudan and Sudan, huge countries where peacekeeping missions are spread thin.
The M23 rebels declared a unilateral ceasefire ahead of a second round of peace talks with the DRC government in Kampala on Tuesday
The rebels told a news conference in the Ugandan capital Kampala that they hoped the government would follow suit.
An attempt last month to negotiate an end to the nine-month rebellion in the east of the country failed.
Up to 800,000 people have been displaced since the rebels took up arms against the Kinshasa government in May.