The United States of America today expressed alarm and concern on the continued mutiny of officers and soldiers formerly integrated into the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Reports say the mutineers, known as the March 23 movement, are former Congolese Tutsi rebels who joined the army under a March 2009 peace deal but defected earlier this year.
On his remarks at DC, Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner reported that the mutineers are now operating in North Kivu province as an armed group under the name M23, and by recent reports of outside support to M23.
Mr. Toner stresses that the US government supports the Congolese government’s efforts to discourage further defections and to bring to justice alleged human rights abusers among the mutinous forces, including Bosco Ntaganda.
He adds these efforts are an essential step toward developing a disciplined and unified Congolese army and bringing a sustainable peace to the DRC.
According to Mr. Toner, the United States also reiterates its support for the international community’s comprehensive approach to disarming and demobilizing the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a violent armed group responsible for atrocities against civilians in the DRC’s eastern provinces and whose leaders participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
“We support ongoing efforts to hold FDLR leaders accountable for their atrocities.” -Mr. Toner
He urges FDLR soldiers and dependents to present themselves to Congolese or UN authorities for disarmament and repatriation.
The United States encourages the DRC, its neighbors, and its partners to work together to prevent M23, the FDLR, and all other armed groups from receiving outside support in contravention of the UN Security Council’s arms embargo on non-governmental entities and individuals operating in the DRC.
Mr. Toner underlines that the United States also strongly supports the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, in particular its active efforts to assist the Congolese government in protecting civilians displaced or threatened by clashes between government forces and armed groups.
On May this year, fighting has resumed in eastern DRC in recent weeks between Government forces, dissident groups and militia, causing new inflows of refugees enter Rwanda and Uganda.
Reports say 30,000 refugees have arrived in Uganda this month. In addition, Uganda was already host to 175,127 refugees, including 97,424 from DRC.
The top United Nations refugee official voiced alarm at new inflows of refugees into Rwanda and Uganda who are fleeing fighting in eastern Congo.
According to UNHCR, more than 8,200 refugees have crossed from DRC into Rwanda since 27 April. These are in addition to the 55,000 Congolese refugees that Rwanda is already hosting.
The conflict was coupled with very limited access for humanitarian workers means that many thousands of people are without protection and help.
Reports also states that the recent Congo has caused suffering for civilians who are experiencing displacement, human rights violations, and loss of property.
UNHCR notes that the situation has worsened in recent months amid recent fighting between DRC forces and soldiers loyal to former rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda.
On January this year, a fresh violence erupted in eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), displacing more than 100,000 civilians the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu.
The clashes are reported to have begun in November last year.
There were an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of July 2011, the vast majority of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. This included over 128,000 people newly displaced in the first quarter of 2011.
A peace agreement in 2003 formally brought years of war to a close, but fighting flared again in North Kivu that same year. An estimated 1.3 million IDPs remain in the DRC, while 350,000 Congolese have fled to other countries.