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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid