Conflict & Justice

Brazilian general to head UN's DR Congo peacekeeping mission


The head of the M23 rebel military forces, Brigadier-General Sultani Makenga (R), sits on November 25, 2012 in the yard of a military residence in Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Over half a million people have been displaced in eastern Congo since the outbreak of the M23 rebellion.



SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The UN has appointed Brazilian General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz to lead a team of peacekeepers in a mission to the DR Congo.

The general, 60, who has been credited with bringing a Haiti slum under control, will come out of retirement to lead 20,000 troops, including a new combat force with the task of targeting rebels in the east of the country.

Santos Cruz told BBC's Newsday his troops would be trained to take into consideration civilians and private property in DR Congo.

More from GlobalPost: Rwanda commands M23 rebels in neighboring Congo, UN says

"The most critical area is nowadays the eastern part of the country," he told Newsday. "I am ready to face the most difficult of scenarios. The main objective is to relieve the suffering of the people."

The mission — the UN's first with an offensive mandate — will be carried out by soldiers from Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, and should get off the ground in July.

The UN's current peacekeeping force in DR Congo, known as Monusco, has widely been called ineffective. Santos Cruz will now be in charge of a brigade of 2,500 that will be in charge of "neutralizing and disarming" armed groups who have been attacking eastern DR Congo for the past 20 years.

The country's most recent uprising, led by the M23, began in 2012 and forced 800,000 people to flee their homes. Neighboring countries Rwanda and Uganda have denied allegations that they support the M23.