The clock is ticking down on the launch of a military operation in eastern DRC against a Rwandan-Hutu militia that has refused to surrender and disarm.
United Nations troops with MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, together with the Congolese army (FARDC), have tackled the rebels before, but this operation comes loaded with high political expectations and fears of a possible humanitarian catastrophe.
Previous military operations in 2009 had horrific consequences with more than 1,000 civilians killed, extreme sexual violence, and aboout 900,000 forced to flee their homes. Satellite imagery confirmed the destruction of villages caused by revenge attacks by Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels.
Jason Stearns, director of the Rift Valley Institute's Usalama Project, said military operations will have limited success. He said the FDLR is in no mood to fight and will hide among civilians and in the forests.
"They are very likely to kill civilians both as a form of leverage, but also because if the FDLR is destabilized they lose access to their regular revenue streams," said Stearns.