UN Report: Uganda Supported M23 Rebels in DRC, Rwanda Exerts ‘De Facto Control’ Over Group

UN Report: Uganda Supported M23 Rebels in DRC, Rwanda Exerts 'De Facto Control' Over Group
Militiamen from the Patriotic Front for Peace/People's Army, one of the largest armed groups fighting M23 in North Kivu, at their headquarters in Mbwavinwa, Lubero territory, in eastern DRC [File: Alexis Huguet/AFP]

Conflict in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo Erupts, with Uganda and Rwanda Involved, According to UN Report

The intricate geopolitical dynamics of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have recently attracted worldwide attention due to new developments in the ongoing conflict there. The UN report provides further evidence that Rwanda and Uganda have been aiding rebel groups operating in the mineral-rich region, with a focus on the M23.

The Conflict’s Historical Context

For decades, the eastern parts of the DRC have been impacted by the violence. When Rwanda and Uganda initially intervened in the DRC in the mid-1990s, citing worries about local militia groups, the current scenario can be traced back to that time. Various armed factions have been fighting for control of areas and resources in the region since then, causing cycles of bloodshed and instability.

What the UN Report Found

Submitted in April 2024 and distributed to council members in June, the most recent report from the UN Security Council expert committee contains numerous noteworthy accusations:

1. The alleged support from Uganda to the M23 rebel organization includes enabling their presence on Ugandan land and coordinating meetings between M23 leaders and military personnel from Uganda, according to the study.

Second, the report states that 3,000 to 4,000 Rwandan soldiers have battled in eastern DRC alongside M23 rebels. Rwanda reportedly maintains “de facto control” over the activities of the M23, according to the analysts.

3. The study condemns Uganda for its role in allowing M23 and Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) forces to remain on its land or move through it without interference.

These claims have surfaced as regional tensions rise, following recent clashes between M23 rebels and DRC authorities that have resulted in widespread displacement and humanitarian crises.

Rebuttals of the Claims

Responding to the allegations made in the UN report, the parties involved are:

1. Uganda: Deputy spokesman for the Ugandan armed forces, Deo Akiiki, denied the claims, saying that they unfairly single out Uganda at a time when relations with the DRC military are cordial. Stability in the region is a priority for Uganda, he said.

2. Rwanda: Yolande Makolo, a spokesman for the Rwandan government, has rebutted the claims by asserting that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is arming and funding the Hutu rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which has terrorized Tutsis in both Kenya and Rwanda.

Thirdly, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country’s foreign affairs minister, Therese Kayikwamba Wagner, voiced her alarm about the worsening situation in the east of the country and accused Rwanda of escalating the displacement crisis by moving troops into DRC territory.

Changes on a Regional and Global Scale

Regional dynamics and foreign involvement have further exacerbated the situation in the eastern DRC:

1. Regional Force: A regional force was sent to oversee a truce with M23 in November 2022. But in 2023, the Congolese government demanded its removal, saying it was useless.

Second, the recent failure of a US-brokered truce shows how difficult it is to find a diplomatic settlement to the war.

Thirdly, there is a humanitarian crisis due to the fact that vulnerable populations have been displaced and there is limited access to aid as a result of the continuing war.

Potential Consequences and Prospects

There are a number of things that the region can learn from the results of the UN report:

First, there may be more international scrutiny and maybe sanctions imposed as a result of the claims made against Rwanda and Uganda.

Second, peace in the region: the fighting has the potential to engulf all of the Great Lakes region and draw in even more countries in the area.

3. Humanitarian Concerns: The displaced people in eastern DRC are suffering tremendous challenges as a result of the humanitarian crisis, which is being worsened by the continuous fighting.

4. Resource Control: Various parties are competing for control over lucrative resources, which adds an economic component to the war in the eastern DRC.

The international community is confronted with the ongoing problem of resolving the war in eastern DRC in a way that safeguards civilian populations while also addressing the underlying causes of the violence. This effort becomes even more onerous when considering the role of neighboring countries and the intricate web of alliances and rivalries in the region.

Diplomatic efforts to defuse the situation and get everyone involved to the bargaining table are expected to step up in the coming months. Any peace that is made may be temporary and unstable if the fundamental problems of leadership, control of resources, and ethnic tensions are not resolved.


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