I'm glad David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner have spent the last two days in the Congo and Rwanda. They can't provide instant solutions to the growing crisis in the Congo but it demonstrates a recognition that it is becoming more serious by the day. Some would say it is a rather belated recognition. Although Rwanda has, on the face of it, done remarkably well in recovering from the traumas of the 1994 genocide, the wounds still run deep between the Tutsies and Hutus.
But what can be done? Seventeen thousand United Nations troops are already attempting to police the Congo, but it is such a massive country that their task is almost impossible. It is clear that the UN force needs to be dramatically strengthened if there is not to be a humanitarian disaster, let alone another genocide. There is another problem though. While manpower is important, so are logistics. There are virtually no tarmacked roads in the Congo so transporting troops so getting troops to the most troubled areas is a huge issue.
As Patrick Mercer has said in the papers today, it is difficult to see Britain providing many troops to strengthen an international force - we just don't have the resources. Even if troops are pulled out of Iraq in schedule, they will be needed in Afghanistan. It's time the EU countries, especially France and Belgium, pulled their weight. Let's face it, after it's shameful role in ignoring the Rwandan genocide France has a lot to make up for.