Apr 5 (Reuters) - Several separate conflicts continue to afflict the Democratic Republic of Congo, which wants the United Nations’ 22,000-strong peacekeeping force to quit the country in 2011.
The United Nations started its peacekeeping mission in the central African country in 1999 during a 1998-2003 war that drew in more than six African countries and killed as many as 5.4 million people. The mission, called MONUC, has since grown into the largest in the world.
Here are some details on the main conflicts in Congo:
A dispute dating back to 1946 over fishing pond rights in the province of Equateur has grown, most recently with a rebel attack on the provincial capital of Mbandaka.[ID:nLDE6340BZ
The conflict was renewed in July 2009 with a clash between two Lobala tribes, the Enyele and the Manzaya, and has since grown into a wider dispute between the Lobala and the Boba.
The dispute has developed into an ethnic tussle for economic and political power in the province, now an opposition stronghold. The Enyele, led by a mystic named Odjani, attacked Dongo in the far north in Oct. 2009, killing hundreds.
A surprise attack on the provincial capital, Mbandaka, on Sunday put the national FARDC army and U.N. peacekeepers under pressure. One peacekeeper was killed and another U.N. worker died of a heart attack.
Advocacy group, Refugees International, says nearly 200,000 people have fled the violence since late 2009.
Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels remain active. Human Rights Watch said 321 people were killed and more than 250 abducted, including 80 children, in a four-day massacre that took place from Dec. 14-17, 2009, in a series of remote villages in Province Orientale, west of Niangara.
The U.N said in December that more than 1,200 civilians had been killed, 1,400 abducted, including 630 children, and more than 200,000 displaced in ten months throughout 2008 and 2009.
The U.N. is backing an army-led operation to oust Rwandan Hutu FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) rebels from North and South Kivu which began at the start of 2010, although fighting broke out only at the end of February.
Tutsi-led and Rwandan-backed CNDP (National Congress for the Defence of the People) fighters who nearly succeeded in capturing north Kivu’s capital Goma in 2008, have since been incorporated into the army, although observers have said they have been insufficiently integrated and run militarised mining operations throughout north Kivu.
Once a hotbed of fighting where tens of thousands were killed, forcing a European military intervention in 2003, the northeast’s Ituri district has quietened down in recent years.
This has allowed the government to negotiate with firms including Tullow Oil, who are interested in oil blocks under Lake Albert on the border with Uganda.
But several militias, including the FPI, FPJC and FNI, persist. MONUC is backing operation “Iron Stone” in Ituri, where FARDC forces are battling remaining elements.
Former Ituri warlords Thomas Lubanga, leader of the ethnic Hema-dominated Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia, was the first suspect to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), accused of recruiting children during the UPC’s occupation of the regional capital Bunia. (Reporting by Katrina Manson in Kinshasa; editing by Richard Valdmanis in Dakar and David Cutler in London)