KAMPALA Uganda—The United Nations peace keeping mission in Congo is set to deploy unarmed surveillance drones along the country’s troubled eastern border with Rwanda and Uganda, in a step to restore order in the resource-rich region.
The drones, the first to be deployed by a U.N. mission, will monitor Congo’s eastern forested border, long-suspected to harbor the main arms supply routes for dozens of rebel groups in Eastern Congo, said the peacekeeping mission’s military spokesman, Felix Basse. The border along Rwanda and Uganda also hosts several smuggling routes for illicit minerals, on which the rebels rely to finance their operations, according to aid officials. The first drones are scheduled to take flight Dec. 9.
The drones are an essential component for the U.N.’s robust combat brigade, as it prepares to start military operations against several rebel groups operating in the country’s lawless jungles and mining heartlands in the next few weeks. The U.N. Security Council mooted the idea to deploy drones at the height of the M23 rebel insurgency earlier this year, after U.N. investigators accused Rwanda and Uganda of creating and arming the group. Kampala and Kigali have denied the accusations.