Africa; a continent rife with war and civil war. With the conclusion of yet another of these civil wars in the making we can hope for a stronger peace and a better future. We can also look to the improvement of the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces to help it along the way. As the world changes we can look back at years of warfare that are leading to more peaceful times all across the pock-marked continent.
The most recent civil war to be wrapped up in Africa is the war between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the rebel group M23. Leaders from both factions met in Kenya and, under the supervision of the Ugandan and Malawian presidents, proceeded to write and sign a peace agreement. The rebels are granted political amnesty for peaceful disbandment, and M23 will become an official political party in the Democratic Republic’s government. The rebels willingness to come to the negotiation table came after a new crackdown by the UN Peacekeeping forces. M23 rose up in late 2012, and captured Goma, the provincial capital of one of western Democratic Republic of the Congo’s provinces. The Government army had retreated from the city with relatively little fighting. In the retreat large amounts of guns, ammunition, and even a set of artillery pieces were captured intact by the rebels. The rebels withdrew to the countryside after the government promised to release a number of their members. Fighting continued in the countryside until November of 2013.
The next civil war to be mentioned is a rather curious civil war between the country of Mali and it’s Tuareg rebels. The Tuaregs are a large group of tribes with an independent cultural background that live in northern Mali. A number of Tuaregs decided they were tired of discrimination and began an armed conflict to take north Mali to be their own independent country. The Mali government was losing the fight and lost the northern section of the country, including the three major cities of northern Mali. A number of Islamic extremist groups, including some Al Qaeda off-shoots, took advantage of the war and fought to secure Mali as a base. A number of the Tuareg people realized they were being taken advantage of and joined a Mali, Tuareg, and French cooperation to run out the extremist groups. With this cooperation the Mali government has regained much of the country. Now that the Islamist extremists are largely run out the war is returning to “normal”. A peace agreement was signed in June to allow for a peaceful election, and with the elections over the Tuaregs began to rekindle the war in September.
Other countries throw some doubt into the equation. In Burundi they put down their own rebel group the Forces for National Liberation (FNL) in 2008-09. The FNL became a recognized political party in the Burundian government. Now though the president has passed a law that is criticized as near censorship and rebel groups have begun raiding from across Burundi’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Burundians fear a return to civil war.
As well, in Nigeria they have declared a state of emergency in the northern states of Yobe and Borno. The rebel group Boko Haram is gaining power as it fights the government. The conflict is not yet recognized as a full civil war at this time as the Boko Haram have not started an open war. The Nigerian military has been deployed to hunt down the Boko Haram hideouts.
In many of these different conflicts the United Nations Peacekeepers have a presence. They are there making sure that humans, especially civilians, are humanely treated by all factions. They are equipped with the weapons and training to protect the people. They are men and women of many nations fighting for the protection of innocents. With the new precedents being set by the Peacekeepers recently we might be looking at a major force for peace sometime in the future.
The pock-marked continent will likely continue its history of war for a long time to come. The presence of the United Nations Peacekeepers is a great influence on the future of this continent. The future is looking better than it has in the past and with luck maybe these people can find peace.