History is repeating itself in the Democratic Republic of Congo with armed conflict once again exploding in the fragile eastern part of the country. Fighting between government forces, dissident groups and the notorious M23 militia ignited again this April and has continued ever since, causing 470,000 people to flee and creating a security vacuum in many other parts of the volatile Kivus region.
The addendum to this year’s UN Group of Experts interim report, published this June, accused Rwanda of providing extensive support to armed guerrilla groups including the M23 rebels who continue to commit atrocities in the region, including summary executions and rape.
Despite the fact that Rwanda still denies all allegations in the UN report, the US sent a strong signal to Rwanda in a letter to President Kagame, signed by 11 members of Congress, outlining imminent cuts in military aid, and the Netherlands, Germany and the UK quickly followed suit.
‘Earlier this week, DFID announced that the UK would unfreeze aid to Rwanda, but the protection of Congolese civilians severely affected by the conflict remains a pressing and urgent issue,’ said Chantal Daniels, Great Lakes Policy and Advocacy Officer at Christian Aid.
‘There is still no clarity over Rwanda ceasing support to M23, and regional discussions at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region are still producing no tangible results.’
In conjunction with providing any aid to Rwanda, DFID should also work across Whitehall to encourage a more proactive UK approach to the resolution of the bloody conflict in the Great Lakes Region, according to Daniels.
‘Hundreds of people have already lost their lives in the current M23 conflict in the DRC. DFID and the FCO need to work together to engage with the Congolese and Rwandan governments to help peace and stability return to DRC and the region as a whole,’ she said.
‘This includes helping to establish a sincere dialogue on cross-border matters regarding the issues of ‘conflict minerals’, security, nationality, and trade.’
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