UNITED NATIONS — France plans to introduce a U.N. resolution sanctioning M23 rebels and others in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the United Nations has warned of a dangerous escalation of violence in the eastern part of the country.
France’s U.N. Ambassador Gérard Araud told reporters M23 rebels are just outside the regional capital, Goma.
"Refugees have fled, the situation is very dire," he said. "The M23 has shown total disrespect for what the Security Council has said. My instructions are to present [a] resolution that we are going to table this afternoon for very speedy - I hope - adoption, especially to decide right now sanctions against the M23, M23 leadership."
He said the council is “quite united” on this issue, and he hopes to have a resolution adopted before Thursday.
A spokesman with the U.N. peacekeeping department said the situation in North Kivu remains extremely fragile. The department had reports Monday of renewed clashes in the area of Munigi, which is about seven kilometers from Goma and near the city’s airport.
The United Nations says violence in and around Goma is making it difficult to distribute humanitarian aid and vulnerable populations who are already displaced are being forced to flee a second time.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made calls in recent days to the DRC foreign minister, as well as to the presidents of Rwanda and Uganda to discuss the situation. Both of those countries have been accused of providing material support to the M23 rebels, a charge they strongly deny.
Asked if Rwanda would be sanctioned in France’s proposed resolution, Ambassador Araud said that would be "obviously" part of the resolution, but a "delicate part." Rwanda is a close ally of the United States and recently won a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council that is to begin January 1.
According to a U.N. report last week, at least 264 civilians, including 83 children, have been arbitrarily executed by armed groups in scores of attacks on villages in the eastern DRC between April and September.