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United Nations deploys drones to Congo

A US Predator unmanned drone armed with a missile stands on the tarmac of Kandahar military airport in 2010. Drones have been a key element of the fight against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
Credit: Massoud Hossaini

The United Nations has sent out unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the restive border that the Democratic Republic of the Congo shares with Uganda and Rwanda, in the first recorded instance of the peacekeepers using a UAV to carry out their duties. 

According to a UN press release, the UAVs were launched from Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, and are intended to keep a close eye on movement by both armed groups and militias in the DRC's eastern region.

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The UN provided video of the drone launch at this address. The mission will begin with two drones built by Selex ES, a company that is part of Finmeccanica S.p.A, per a report from the New York Times. 

MONUSCO, or the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, intends to eventually acquire five drones constructed by Selx ES, with an aim of attaining 24-hour aerial surveillance of the border region by March of 2014, according to AFP. 

Drone surveillance may be new for the United Nations but has become relatively commonplace for the US military, which has been using the unmanned vehicles in the Middle East and Central Asia in recent years, drawing considerable controversy. 

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