News / Africa

Activists Urge US to Push Rwanda to Help Bring Peace to DRC

Robert Daguillard
Advocacy groups and human rights activists are expressing concern that the United States and other governments are not doing enough to hold Rwanda accountable in the wake of a United Nations report alleging Rwandan support of Tutsi rebels in eastern DR Congo.

Witnesses told members of the House of Representatives that the U.S. must press Rwanda do more to restore stability in the Great Lakes region and help bring peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Methodist bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda from the DRC was among the witnesses.

“Congo (DRC) government has done what it can do. This problem is Rwanda’s problem. Once Rwanda stops the war in Congo, once the Rwandese are required to maintain democracy in their own country, we will end this war,” Ntambo said.

The hearing Wednesday before the House Subcommittee on Africa comes three months after a United Nations report denounced what it called Rwandan involvement in the eastern Congolese conflict.

The reported alleged that Rwanda has supported a rebel group known as M23, which has dealt government forces a series of setbacks this year, allegedly to protect the rights of the region’s ethnic Tutsis.

Rwanda has rejected the allegations.

A high-level meeting on the situation in eastern Congo is expected next week on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration, reacting to the U.N. report, suspended some military aid to Rwanda, while other Western countries reduce development assistance.

Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group testified that the international community should consider expanding sanctions if necessary.

“And that would include by adding names to the U.N. sanctions list of any individual and entities responsible for supporting the M23, including Rwandan officials, if they’re found to be supporting the M23,” Schneider said.

Jason Stearns, an American expert on Congo, testified that M23 is manipulating anti-Tutsi prejudice in the eastern Congo to justify taking control of much of the region - and controlling its economy.

Stearns said the United States should take the lead in exerting economic pressure on Kigali, especially in light of Rwanda’s sensitivity about its international reputation.

“If the Rwandan government today attracts Starbucks and Rick Warren and Tony Blair, it’s not because it’s such a great economic opportunity, it’s because people see it as a symbolic beacon of hope in Central Africa. That storyline needs to change and the U.S. government can help change that storyline as well. As I’ve said before, the Rwandan government has made enormous progress internally on development indicators, but that can’t be separated, as it has been so far, from its involvement in the eastern Congo,” Stearns said.

Rwanda's ambassador to the U.S., James Kimonyo, sat in on the hearing. Afterward, he reiterated his government’s dismissal of the allegations in the U.N. report.

“What we have said, we want peace in Rwanda, we want peace in the Congo, we want peace in the region and there is no reason why we should foment any unrest in the region because in the end, the dividends of a peaceful region are known,” Kimonyo said.

The United Nations is caring for more than a half-million people who have fled their homes since the fighting with the M23 began earlier this year.  In all, more than 2 million people have been displaced by years of instability and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: mutamba kalonji from: kasai/drc
September 22, 2012 5:28 PM
Jason is right when he says this in an other statement at Usalama Project, Rift Valley Institute/Nairobi :"All agree that the principal source of insecurity in DRC is the Congolese state itself. Its crippling weakness reinforces the belief that the only way of protecting property and individual freedoms is through armed force. The Congolese state has neither the rule of law to guarantee property rights, nor the force of law to suppress armed rivals. This lack of faith in Congolese institutions is perhaps the most intractable part of the current conundrum." and definitely that is the truth. First implement the rule of law and everything gonna be alright. Is Kabila capable?

by: Jean Kapenda from: USA/DRC
September 20, 2012 3:24 PM
Every criminologist will agree with me on that (1) as long as there is an international market for stolen and looted goods from the Congo, that stupid and childish war will continue in the DRC; (2) as long as we've got hyper motivated offenders (those little devils coated in human skin called dictators and dictocrats in Africa and their associates), ineffective institutional and physical guardianship across the region, the thieves' party is far from ending. It's that simple!

by: Jean Jacques from: Washington
September 20, 2012 2:40 PM
Soon or later this kingship of Kagame is going to end. People are dying in the Congo yet Obama's administration still reluctant to press some hardcore restrictions to the administration of this blood sucker Kagame. The people of the world need peace and peace is needed in Congo!

by: Chelsie Frank from: Edina, MN
September 20, 2012 12:01 PM
I have lived in Eastern DRC for the last four years: in Goma and Beni. These people have been displaced and my friends have been some of the people hiding under beds as instability ravages their communities. This is NOT a fable. I am so thankful to see high level conversations taking place in the House. Jason Stearn's testimony is backed by his first hand experience interviewing rebel faction leaders.

by: ruda from: rwanda
September 20, 2012 3:20 AM
According to the Times mag, who's reporter was on location. the two millions displaced is a fable. Stearns is an active stakeholder, activist to no one accountable

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs