Western Donors Pressed To Sanction Rwanda As DRC Violence Escalates

Western Donors Pressed To Sanction Rwanda As DRC Violence Escalates

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Around 100,000 people in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have fled their homes following a string of recent attacks, and fighting between M23 rebels and government forces, according to the United Nations. The U.N. accuses Rwanda of backing the rebels, a claim Rwanda denies.

Espoir Ndagije, who fled to a camp in Goma in the DRC, said he had no choice.

The M23 rebels claim they are defending ethnic Tutsis in the eastern DRC, drawing on longstanding tensions between Tutsis and Hutus that led to the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when over half a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by armed Hutu militia forces.

The heavily armed M23 rebel group has seized swathes of territory in the DRC’s North Kivu province since reemerging in late 2021.

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A panel of United Nations experts released a report in December that found widespread evidence that Rwanda was supporting the M23 rebels and sending its own troops over the border. The rebel group is accused of conducting widespread atrocities, including the arbitrary slaughter of civilians and mass rape.

The DRC, the European Union and the United States also blame Rwanda for supporting the insurgency.

Following the visit of a U.N delegation to the region this week, the DRC’s minister of humanitarian affairs, Modeste Mutinga Mutushayi, called on the rebels to withdraw.

“We are all listening, hoping that clear instructions, clear messages, will be sent to Rwanda and to the M23 so that on the 31 (of March) at the latest, our territory can be liberated,” Mutushayi told reporters.

France’s ambassador the United Nations, Nicolas De Rivière, was also part of the delegation. He urged a political solution and said the U.N. Security Council will address the conflict.

“It is clear that Rwanda supports the M23,” De Rivière said. “It is also clearly established that there are incursions by the regular Rwandan army in North Kivu and that this too is unacceptable. So, this is one of the subjects that must be discussed (at the U.N. Security Council) and it must stop.”

Observers say the evidence of Rwandan involvement is clear.

“The weaponry they have, the Kevlar jackets they have, the backpacks, the RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades], these are all identical to what the Rwandan army sports when it goes into battle. So essentially, it’s just a branch of the Rwandan army,” said Michela Wrong, a British journalist focusing on the Great Lakes region and author of a recent book on Rwanda, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad.

However, Rwanda has denied supporting M23 rebels and accuses Kinshasa of supporting Hutu rebels.

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