News / USA

Rwanda Remains in Shadows of DRC Conflict

Congolese armed forces (FARDC) soldiers ride on their pick-up truck as they advance to a new position while battling M23 rebels in Kibati near Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept. 2, 2013.
Congolese armed forces (FARDC) soldiers ride on their pick-up truck as they advance to a new position while battling M23 rebels in Kibati near Goma, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept. 2, 2013.
Gabe Joselow
Leaders of Africa’s Great Lakes region are meeting in Kampala Thursday, seeking a solution to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a lull in fighting between the armed forces and the M23 rebels. But, accusations that Rwanda continues to support the rebels are complicating efforts for peace.

On a cloudy morning in Goma this week, the Congolese army paraded alleged M23 defectors and children who had been forcibly recruited by the rebels in front of a group of visiting journalists.

A 14-year-old boy named Joseph tells his story of being abducted by M23 from his home in Rwanda, being brought across the border to the DRC and forced to carry supplies and weapons for the rebels.

It is difficult to verify his story in this environment - a frightened child talking to reporters with TV cameras as Congolese soldiers loom nearby.

But still, his case presents a real challenge: getting the two countries to work together while Congo accuses Rwanda of fueling the conflict from behind the scenes.

Congolese army spokesman Olivier Amuli says it is a complicated issue.
“They are young children; they are also foreigners,” he said. “The two countries have to come together and talk about this. And we are still waiting to find a solution.”

Human Rights Watch is among the groups that have documented evidence of Rwanda’s support for rebels in eastern Congo.

Senior Africa Researcher Ida Sawyer says the country’s reluctance to acknowledge its involvement has complicated efforts to resolve the crisis.

“It’s a big problem, and I think we’ve seen this for the past 17 years, as Rwanda has backed different armed groups in eastern Congo or sent their military across the border, they’ve always denied it," said Sawyer.

Rwanda first sent its army into eastern Congo in 1996 to chase down the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. Kigali has been accused of supporting other rebel groups in the area since then.

That includes the M23 movement, which briefly seized the city of Goma in November, but has been losing ground in recent fighting with the Congolese army, backed by a more aggressive U.N. peacekeeping brigade.

Despite growing international pressure to lay down its arms, Human Rights Watch reports M23 continues to receive supplies from Rwanda.

“We’ve interviewed dozens of civilians who live along the border between Congo and Rwanda, and they’ve told us about significant movements of troops, weapons and ammunition from Rwanda into Congo in the past couple weeks," she said.

Local rights groups in DRC have also reported an influx of Rwandan soldiers in areas under rebel control.

Rwanda has repeatedly denied any links to the rebels, and has accused groups like Human Rights Watch of having a political agenda.

The foreign ministry has also accused the Congolese army of deliberately trying to provoke Rwanda, after a number of bombs fell in Rwandan territory during recent fighting around Goma.

For some observers, Rwanda’s involvement in eastern Congo is inevitable.

Jean-Louis Kyaviro, a former member of parliament who now leads a political pressure group, says, with Congo’s vast mineral wealth and poor management on the part of the government, outsiders are simply taking advantage of the country’s weaknesses.

“You know, when we are condemning the thief who entered into the house through the window, we should also look for the kids who left the window open," said Kyaviro.

A framework agreement signed by regional leaders at the African Union in February called for the DRC to make security sector reforms and to consolidate state authority, particularly in the east.

Members of the Great Lakes region also have sought to resolve the conflict through dialogue, although talks in Kampala between the Congolese government and the rebels have broken down.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid