Saturday, July 20, 2013

Why Congo protesters decry UN concern over army abuse

Good People,

My concern with those of many others is that, UN Ban-Ki-Moon could be incompetent in handling Africa's problems or he is RACIALLY BLINDENED by the free loading of Africa's illegal mineral looting with organized theft meant to benefit network of Special Business Interest.

Although the UN and DRC Congo Government has accused Rwanda, in some detail, of backing Col Makenga's group, it is disturbing that, when DRC Congo Government is now making advance headways to destroy stronghold of M23 inside Congo, and move them out of Congo, UN Ban-Ki-Moon stepped in to weaken the DRC Congo Governments momentum and tempo.  This is exactly what he did to allow Tutsis M23 to take over Goma in 2012……which is why, people of Congo are angry and are demonstrating against Ban-Ki-moon action.  He cannot have it both ways.....

It implies that he was happy when the Tutsi M23 occupied Goma, a Congo-land for 10 days in November before withdrawing from the city under international pressure.  Because of this, it is
possible he is a benefactor shareholder of M23 looting of Congo mineral resources.......which he
must defend himself from the allegations........Congo people are human beings who have a right
to stand their ground and protect their territory from any type of attack, invasion or abuse. 

The truth is, Kagame like Museveni is an expansionist, trying to steal Congoland through M23 just like Museveni stole Migingo and has now hoist his Uganda flag with his Uganda police on the Island who have killed many Kenyan fishermen and stole Kenyan fishermen facilities with fishing equipments. This is unacceptable behavior of a serious crime that invaded Territorial privacy that tresspassed the International Sovereignty Treaty. There are valid evidence to prove that Kagame and Museveni conspired to commit crime, violation and abuse of Human Rights by invading Congo through M23 and they must be charged for the same without wasting any more time.

How DR Congo rebels make their money:
A controversial UN report on the Democratic Republic of Congo has focused attention on Rwanda's alleged role in the current army mutiny, but the document also reveals intriguing details about how rebels in the area make their money.
It lists bank robberies and extortion rackets taxing charcoal and cows as some of the activities of the insurgents in east of the country.
The recent increase in violence was partly caused by government attempts to end racketeering by parts of the army, including the mining of precious minerals such as tin and gold.
Whenever DRC Congo Government Army wanted to reassert its own control over these rackets, there is always interference by the M23 threatening Congo Government with assault.This became a long-standing obstruction and struggle by Kinshasa to establish control over the east.
The Rwandese Tutsi of M23 resorted to blatant criminality and robbed the International Bank for Africa (BIAC) in the main eastern city of Goma twice. On the first occasion, the UN study says, soldiers snatched $1m (£640,000), from specific well-off Congolese.The second BIAC raid netted only $50,000.They also attacked and robbed Goma hotel, the Stella Matutina, a customs office including several money transfer branches.Trucks transporting charcoal for cooking were also ambushed and robbed, or at times, they were heavily "taxed" $50 at illegal M23 roadblocks and even motorcyclists have to pay a sort of license fee of $2 a week, the report by the UN group of experts published within the last week says.
Main source: UN Group of Experts, June 2012 reported.
Profile: Bosco Ntaganda known as the 'Terminator' was the brain behind formation of M23 in March 2009 with the help of Kagame and Museveni……..the reason why Kagame fully supported and intervened for M23 to demand RANSOM from DRC Congo’s President Kabila.
This racketeering made some M23 officers very rich, to an extent the Tutsi ethnic power base inside Congo was strengthened to a point they constantly terrorized and committed insurgencies on Congo Government and killed and raped Congo women and children.
The Congolese government was therefore mostly concerned by soldiers led by General Bosco Ntaganda aka "The Terminator" and Colonel Sultani Makenga - who are both believed to be backed by Rwanda thus threatening Kinshasa's territorial and sovereignty. It is also believed that, the formation of M23 troops inside Congo under shared command of Gen. Bosco Ntaganda and Col. Makenga who are both Tutsis was for purposes of setting mutiny for their own fiefdoms north of the volcano range that lies just outside Goma bordering Kivu.
It is also believed that, the indictment on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court in The Hague of Gen Bosco Ntaganda will reveal much more.
"The UN experts report should ring alarm bells in Washington, London and other capitals," Enough said.
"The war in eastern [DR] Congo has escalated to where it was four years ago, with spikes in attacks, sexual violence and displacement."

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson &
Executive Director for
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa

Rwanda 'training rebels to fight Congo army'
Published on May 31, 2012
A group of defectors fighting for the M23 rebel movement against the Congolese army say that they were recruited and trained in neighbouring Rwanda against their will.

The revelations come after weeks of fighting in the east of the country and would be the first direct evidence that Rwandan troops are involved in the fighting that has displaced thousands from their homes.

The allegations made by the rebel defectors across the border in Congo will strain relations with Rwanda, but so far officials from both sides have held back, and are talking about a joint investigation to get to the bottom of the matter.

Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb reports from Kigali.

Map of Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring African countries.
Rich Clabaugh/Staff

 Regional leaders opt for military option to end DR Congo fighting

By Ronald Ssekandi and Yuan Qing

KAMPALA, - Africa's Great Lakes region leaders on Wednesday concluded a two-day summit here reinforcing the military option to end fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The leaders that included Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete, Burundi's Pierre Nkurunziza and DRC's Joseph Kabila were attend the summit convened by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a regional body bringing together 11 member states.

Other ICGLR member states including Angola, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sudan and Zambia sent government representatives. Uganda's acting foreign affairs minister Henry Okello Oryem told Xinhua in an interview that while the leaders are taking a ' carrot and stick' model, that is military and peaceful measure, the military option is most preferable.

In a communiqu� issued at the end of the meeting aimed at stopping the fighting in eastern DRC, the leaders set up a sub committee comprising of ministers of defense to come up with a detailed plan on the operationalization of the agreed upon neutral force. "Mandated the subcommittee to propose urgent actionable steps to ensure that fighting stops completely to allow for consolidation of peace, security and stability," the communiqu� said.

The leaders while meeting in Ethiopia last month agreed that a neutral regional or international force be established to police the common border between eastern DRC and Rwanda and also eliminate negative forces including the M23 rebels and the Interahamwe militia.

The leaders said that within the next four weeks they would meet in Uganda again to finalize the military plan that will be used to mount an onslaught against the rebels.

Oryem told reporters at the end of the summit that all individuals fueling the fighting in DRC would be sanctioned.

"We could ask not only the sanctions to be local but also ask the international community to help us and force those sanctions against these particular people and that could include anything from travel ban to freezing their assets and penalty to those who continue supporting them (rebels)," he said.

Analysts argue that while the Great Lakes region countries have opted for the military option, most of their troops are stretched. Uganda provides the bulk of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia and is also fighting the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in DRC. Central African Republic and the DRC are also involved in fighting the LRA which is causing mayhem along the common border of the two countries.

Kenya is also involved in the African Union military operations in Somalia against the Al Shabaab, a militant group with links to Al Qaeda, a terror group said to have intentions of making eastern Africa its save haven.

Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya's vice president told reporters at the end of the summit that Kenya would consider providing troops to fight negative forces in DRC provided the ICGLR member states are asked to contribute soldiers. James Mugume, permanent secretary of Uganda's ministry of foreign affairs told Xinhua that despite the stretch, region has to solve its own problems and not to wait upon foreigners. He said that although there is a fully funded UN peacekeeping mission in eastern DRC, the force has not done much to pacify the region.

He described the presidents' meeting as a clear manifestation of how Africa is determined to solve its own problems. Guns aside, Oryem said that the region is trying to get a special envoy who will study the cause of the conflict in eastern DRC and come up with possible solutions. From the humanitarian point of view, aid agencies are warning that fighting in eastern DRC between the Congolese army and the M23 rebels was worsening the humanitarian situation.

Fighting in early July forced over 16,500 Congolese to flee to neighboring southwestern Uganda where their influx is dwarfing the provision of aid, according to the UN.

Already over 35,000 Congolese refugees, according to statistics, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had crossed to Uganda in recent months.

At the summit here the leaders set up a trust fund to support victims of the humanitarian crisis. Uganda contributed one million U.S. dollars to the fund to help tens of thousands of Congolese fleeing the vast central African country.

The leaders also urged the international community to contribute towards the fund to help address the plight the refugees. (Xinhua)


Rwandan Support for M23

Apparently Rwanda supports M23 and is trying to conquer part of the Congo. And what is more, this appears to be a Tutsi vs. Hutu conflict. Read this latest article, and these excerpts:
Nsanzimana said he was 10 when his family first came to Congo, among more than a million Rwandan Hutus who fled after the genocide. He was here in 1996 when Kagame’s troops bombarded refugee camps, killing genociders and innocent civilians indiscriminately. Then they chased those who fled in an orgy of massacres across the breadth of Congo, a country the size of Western Europe.
His father and one brother died in that flight. His sister escaped to neighbouring Republic of Congo. One brother remained as an FDLR commander.
Nsanzimana and one remaining brother finally returned home to Rwanda, only to find that their father’s properties had been seized by Tutsi neighbours.
“When we tried to reclaim our property, those who had stolen it made false accusations against us about the genocide, and we landed up in jail,” he said.
In 2004, the brothers were released and given back one house and a farm. Life remained a struggle, he said, living off the land on the farm.
Nsanzimana believes Rwanda’s latest adventure has left him homeless. He thinks his only chance is to seek refugee status far from Rwanda and eastern Congo, where he believes the history of hatred between Tutsis and Hutus can never be resolved.
“The Rwandan Defence Forces are the same Rwandan Patriotic Front (rebels) that killed my brother and are responsible for the death of my father,” he said. “They are the same Tutsi military that trained me how to fight and brought me to this battlefield.”
My initial thought on all of this is that American Anglicans must insist that the Rwandan Church (PEAR) speak up for the full inclusion of Hutus at all levels of society.

Congo protesters decry UN concern over army abuse

Associated Press

NICK LONG July 19, 2013 Politics

Residents supporting Congo's army gather to protest against President Joseph Kabila and the United Nations mission in Congo for a perceived lack of support in the fight against M23 rebels, in Goma, Congo, Thursday, July 18, 2013. The M23 rebels, who seized Goma last November but eventually withdrew, now seem to be heavily outgunned by the army, which pounded their positions with helicopters, tanks and artillery.(AP Photo/Alain Wandimoyi)
GOMA, Congo (AP) — About 200 demonstrators marched toward a United Nations base in eastern Congo on Friday to protest a statement from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing concern over alleged rights abuses committed by the military.
Carrying placards with slogans including "The UN is mocking us" and "Let our armed forces do their job," the marchers were dispersed by police before reaching the base, which is the headquarters for the U.N.'s 19,000-strong MONUSCO peacekeeping mission.
The protesters were angry about a statement issued by Ban on Wednesday amid fresh fighting between the military and the M23 rebel group, said Serge Sivya, a spokesman for the group.
The statement said Ban was "deeply concerned" over reports Congolese soldiers were desecrating rebel corpses, and that the U.N. peacekeeping mission was reviewing its support for army units suspected of being involved. Congo's government announced Thursday that a deputy commander had been arrested over his alleged role in the practice.
"We are protesting that the U.N. is asking for our troops to be put on trial, and we think they are targeting commanders who have shown their prowess in battle," Sivya said.
The same demonstrators took to the streets earlier in the week, before Ban's statement was issued, protesting a decision by the government to halt apparently successful military operations against the rebels north of Goma. Those protests were broken up by police firing tear gas and live ammunition into the air.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission was heavily criticized last year for standing by when the M23 rebels swept into Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, having routed government forces. The rebels withdrew in return for peace talks, which have repeatedly stalled.
In fresh fighting that began Sunday, the Congolese army pushed the rebels back and, according to the government, inflicted heavy casualties. The area around Goma fell quiet Thursday after four days of heavy fighting.
Civil society representative Nestor Bauma said he believed Ban had a right to express concern about rights abuses. "But he should not forget the realities on the ground. If people think the U.N. is trying to block an army advance you can imagine what can happen," he said.
A Congolese army officer, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said the army condemned the desecration of corpses but said the perpetrators' "combat stress" should be taken into account.
Congo Gorilla Defenders Compete with Rebels for Charcoal Market       

Emmanuel de Merode runs Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest wildlife park, which has been closed to tourists for more than a year due to eastern Congo’s civil war. Photo taken August 11, 2012.
Emmanuel de Merode runs Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest wildlife park, which has been closed to tourists for more than a year due to eastern Congo’s civil war. Photo taken August 11, 2012.
David Arnold
In the remote forests of Africa’s oldest wildlife park, and at the heart of a civil war that has decimated the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s eastern region, the rangers of Virunga National Park are waging their own battle. They’re fighting to save the surviving families of mountain gorillas and 200 other endangered species, as well as the forests and savannahs of this U.N. World Heritage site.

Their formidable enemies include rebel units of the anti-government M23, a force comprised mostly of ethnic Tutsis, and several other militias, including the infamous Joseph Kony’s Lords’ Resistance Army from Uganda.

The Virunga rangers also combat poachers, who kill the gorillas to sell their heads and limbs on the black market, and a small industry of park trespassers who produce illegal charcoal.

The park’s warden, Emmanuel de Merode, estimates the rebels earn up to $35 million a year in charoal sales to support their wars. He also suspects the illegal charcoal manufacturers are responsible for the deaths of some gorillas because the animals are a “hindrance” to the illegal industry.

De Merode took charge of the park’s security – and later its regional economic development – through an agreement between Kinshasa and the African Conservation Foundation in London. He is a descendant of Belgium’s King Albert I, who established the park more than 80 years ago to save the gorillas that have since gained world renown.

Challenges for Africa's oldest wildlife park

Today, as de Merode looks across Virunga’s eastern boundary at Rwanda, he sees a nation recently plagued with massive genocide but now reporting tourism revenues of $281 million because of the world’s fascination with gorillas.

Virunga, however, is directly in the path of 15 years of a civil war in which an estimated 5.4 million people in the DRC have died. Officials claim 90 percent of the fatalities – half of them children – have died not in warfare but as a byproduct of the war: cholera, malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.

Since the park has been closed to tourists for more than a year due to the armed violence, the goal of building a tourism industry around the park’s wildlife is uncertain as de Merode defends the park and tries to build the regional economy.

The park maintains a corps of about 300 well-armed and highly trained park rangers. They patrol more than 7,800 square kilometers of near-pristine African environment: brilliant white glacial fields atop the Ruwenzori Mountains in the park’s north, the deep red flows of Nyiragongo’s volcanic lava in the park’s south, the gorillas in the Mikeno Mountain foothills, a few hundred hippos on Lake Albert and its marshes, and more than other 200 endangered species in between. In their battle to secure the park’s environment, more than 130 rangers have been killed.

In addition to the flora and the fauna, the rangers are also defending such park-sponsored developments as new roads, a small hydroelectric project, nine schools, a health clinic and a better way to make charcoal briquettes – a vital commodity for the region’s 4 million rural population.

Building a better briquette

Virguna’s economic planners came up with two kinds of charcoal. In the park’s innovative manufacturing site, local workers produce “the fireball”, a safer, more efficient non-carbonized briquette in a compressed form for local consumers. The fireball is a combination of cassava paste and charcoal dust recycled from the vast and less efficient charcoal-making companies of Goma, compressed into the shape of a golf ball and sold.

Village women in the region – many of them victims of rape by rebels as they searched for firewood in the forests - are employed in hand-pressing donut-shaped briquettes using locally appropriate technology prescribed by a development lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kim Chaix, a New York fundraiser and charcoal advocate who works with park administration on several development projects said armed rebels are now close to the charcoal manufacturing site.

The charcoal briquette-making project continues for now, but the goal of a thriving tourism industry and the survival of the mountain gorillas remains uncertain.

Even while the park is closed to tourists, Chaix and de Merode plan to attract more investment for the production of palm oil, papaya enzymes and soap, and commercial crops of indigenous bamboo for their briquette-making enterprise.

“We’re trying to create peace and economic security for four million people who live within a day’s walk of the park,” Chaix said.

Colonel Makenga: the New Rwandan Proxy Warlord in DRC

by AfroAmerica Network on May 9, 2012

First there was the renegade General Laurent Nkunda, then the indicted war criminal General Bosco Ntaganda, and now the soon-to be General Colonel Sultani Makenga. What do they have in common?
All three are from Rwandan ethnic Tutsis, who fought within Rwandan Patritiot Front Army (RPA) from 1990-1997, became part of the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF), were sent into Zaire, now the DRC, to fight for Laurent Desire Kabila, became Congolese rebels within the RCD Goma, then part of the Congolese army after the Pretoria Accord, and then rebelled against the Congolese authorities, and created a new rebellion called CNDP, then integrated the Congolese Army FARDC, and then rebelled again. Their story could only make the head spin.
Only a few costmetic differences: Laurent Nkunda followed this path to the letter. General Bosco Ntaganda made a quick stunt in Kisangani and Ituri Province on General Kagame’s mission to support the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. It is when on this mission that he massacred hundreds of thousand of civilians and earned the deserved nickname of “Terminator.” Colonel Makenga kept a low profile, until recently.
There is one major similarity among the three warlords: all them are the creation of the Rwandan dictator and military junta commander, General Paul Kagame and have served as his proxy warlords in the DRC. These warlord and their militias are an extension of the Rwandan Defense Forces and their job is to make sure that the Congolese natural resources continue to flow to Rwanda and enrich the coffers of the small clique of cronies around the Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame.
When these warlords are spent or becomes a hot potato, General Paul Kagame does not hesitate to bring them to Rwanda and replace them with a new convenient warlord.
That happened to General Laurent Nkunda in Januay 2009. He had been accused by the United Nations and the United States of being a nuisance in DRC and the US wanted him either sent into exile or arrested. General Paul Kagame had a better idea: he put him under house arrest in Rwanda. After all, General Nkunda was his employee and hit man with too many secrets. Recently, General Nkunda has been seen driving in expensive cars around Kigali and Gisenyi, with a heavy military escort. In Gisenyi, he is housed in beautiful lakeside mansion in Kigufi.
Recently, General Ntaganda become even more of a nuisance. Sought by the International Criminal Court, accused of multiple war crimes by several NGO and of mutiny and rebellion by the DRC Government, he was just too much of thorn in the back of General Paul Kagame.
The next step could already be predicted. Last week, the DRC and Rwandan government agreed on joint military operations against… the FDLR, not General Ntaganda. Rwanda sent three thousand troops into the DRC (see our article:Rwanda Sends 3 Thousand Troops in DRC ) and General Bosco Ntaganda, who was threatening teh FARDC from South-Kivu to Oriental Province, suddenly vanished.
The next day, a new warlord was born. Colonel Makenga, conveniently rebelled, left Bukavu, crossed Walikale, and Masisi and reached Rutshuru, where he created yet another armed group: The Congolese National Army (ANC), with M23 March 23 Movement, being the political branch. This is the new Rwandan Military proxy militia of General Paul Kagame that will take over from General Bosco Ntaganda. Actually sources said he left Bukavu, through the Rwandan border town of Cyangugu, then Kibuye, then Gisenyi, then Kibumba and reached Rutshuru. Most of his troops crossed at the same time as the 3000 Rwandan troops.
How about the whereabouts of General Ntaganda? Rumors have it that he has been captured, shot and killed, or has already reached Ituri with the help of Colonel Ruhorimbere, FARDC commander of Beni (see our article General Bosco Ntaganda Moving troops to Ituri and Masisi). Other rumors are that he is already under house arrest in Rwanda.
Meanwhile, sources in Goma informed AfroAmerica Network that the 3,000 troops from Rwandan that crossed into DRC last week have reached the farm belonging to General Bosco Ntaganda and unearthed a large cache os weapons, more than 2o tones according to other sources within MONUSCO. Yes, the Rwandan military has made sure than the weapons it supplied to General Ntaganda do not fall into the hands of MONUSCO!
One of our Congolese correspondents told us: “Do not be surprised. This is the Congo, where all kind of things can happen.”
The coming weeks or months will inform us on the fate of the new Rwandan proxy militia and their new leader Colonel Makenga. As for General Bosco Ntaganda, General Paul Kagame must surely knows where he is.
©2012 AfroAmerica Network. All Rights Reserved.
Tagged as: Colonel Makenga, Congo, General Bosco Ntaganda, General Paul Kagame, MONUSCO, Rwanda
Comments on this entry are closed.
UN under fire over fall of Goma in DR Congo

21 November 2012 Last updated at 00:32 ET
By Barbara PlettBBC UN correspondent
M23 soldiers celebrate in streets of Goma. 20 Nov 2012 M23 rebels marched through the main streets of Goma unimpeded
The UN's failure to confront insurgents who seized a strategic city in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday has raised questions about its largest and costliest peacekeeping mission.
The blue helmets gave up the battle for Goma in the eastern part of the country without firing a shot, standing aside as M23 rebels - widely believed to be backed by Rwanda - overran the frontier city of up to one million people.
For the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, it was "absurd" that the UN troops had allowed the rebels to parade past them. He urged that the mandate of the more than 17,000-strong force be reviewed.
The DR Congo peacekeepers - known by their acronym Monusco - are authorised to use force to protect civilians and support Congolese army operations against rebel groups and militias competing for control of mineral wealth in the lawless east of the country.
They have been criticised before for failing to respond adequately to atrocities against civilians committed by the rebels, notably a mass rape near one of their bases in 2010.
In their defence the UN emphasises that despite the relatively large size of the mission, troops are spread thinly over a vast and difficult terrain - 6,700 are deployed in North Kivu province where Goma is located, 1,500 in the city itself.
Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

The UN tends to be less successful with a purely military strategy that is not within the framework of a political strategy”
End Quote Congo analyst Jason Stearns
When it came to the rebel advance, the peacekeepers did back the army with attack helicopters, but the soldiers disappeared as M23 reached the city.
Protect civilians
The peacekeepers "cannot substitute" for the national army, said UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey, and in any case did not want to trigger gun battles in an urban area.
"It's impossible for Monusco to defend Goma single-handedly," agrees Congo analyst Jason Stearns.
"If the army crumbles it's difficult to do anything but assert a presence in the streets, to go and protect civilians when there are reports of abuse, but it's impossible to hold the town."
A senior UN official said that the Monusco patrols around Goma continued and were not being harassed by the rebels. He said the UN was still able to operate helicopters - but not fixed wing aircraft - at the airport because it controls the runway and air traffic.
But it is working in a vacuum, with the civilian authorities, police and army having fled Goma, and will have to find a way to co-exist with M23 if the rebels continue to dominate the city.
South African Monusco troops in Masisi territory, DRC. June 2012 Monusco says its peacekeepers are spread too thinly to take on a rebel army
More broadly, Monusco is dealing with a weak state, still struggling with the effects of nearly 10 years of internal conflict that dragged in DR Congo's neighbours. After the war ended in 2003 the UN played a key role in shepherding the country to elections in 2006, but since then, says Mr Stearns, it hasn't had a political role.
"The UN tends to be less successful with a purely military strategy that is not within the framework of a political strategy," he said.
"I tell diplomats that the focus should not be on creating a better mission doing something almost impossible, but on re-politicising the mission, making it a political player. Right now it's the worst of both worlds, which makes it a target when things go wrong."
Perhaps the biggest complication is evidence that DR Congo's neighbours are still interfering.
The senior UN official said the Peacekeeping Department is looking at the possibility of Monusco using drones to step up its monitoring of the border shared with Rwanda and Uganda, although "monitoring and securing the border are very different things".
The flow of weapons into the country has greatly increased the military abilities of M23, as has external tactical advice and apparent troop reinforcements.
The Security Council expressed deep concern about such foreign support in a resolution adopted on Tuesday night, but it did not name and shame Uganda and especially Rwanda as the culprits, as did its panel of experts in a recent report.
Both countries have strongly denied the allegations and UN officials and diplomats say a political solution involving them is the only way to end the violence in eastern DR Congo.
But the United Nations Director of Human Rights Watch, Philippe Bolopion, questioned "the Security Council's failure to expose Rwanda for its well documented support to a murderous movement wreaking havoc amongst the civilian population of Goma and at times attacking UN peacekeepers".
If there is a clear UN failure in DR Congo, he said, this is it.
Dai Kurokawa / EPA
M23 rebel fighters rush from Goma to the town of Sake to reinforce positions as residents of Sake flee with their belongings on the road between Goma and Sake in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 22, 2012. Many of the fleeing residents stopped at an internally displaced person camp between Sake and Goma.

Reuters reports — Congolese troops fought back on Thursday against rebels who rejected calls from African leaders to quit the eastern city of Goma, captured earlier this week in a major upset that forced U.N. troops to withdraw.
Thousands of people fled the area of clashes around the town of Sake, as M23 rebel fighters rushed from Goma to reinforce their positions against an army counter-offensive.
Both sides claimed control of Sake as night fell on the troubled eastern area. There was no independent verification of who was holding the town.
The M23 rebel movement, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, has vowed to "liberate" all of the vast, resource-rich country after taking Goma, a provincial capital on the Rwandan border, ramping up tensions in a fragile region. Full story…
Jerome Delay / AP
Women run after Congolese soldiers and rebel fighters battle over the eastern Congolese town of Sake, Nov. 22. The woman in orange, identified as Mamou, said she lost her husband by a fatal wound to the head from incoming mortar rounds. Thousands fled the M23 controlled town as the militants seeking to overthrow the government vowed to push forward despite mounting international pressure.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images
Thousands of Congolese flee the town of Sake, about 16 miles west of Goma, following fresh fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nov. 22.

Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images
Congolese children sit on a step in front of M23 rebels in Sake, Nov. 22, 2012. Rebels took the town yesterday, but were engaged in heavy gunfighting this afternoon as government-allied militia tried to retake it.

Dai Kurokawa / EPA
A woman who fled her home in Sake emerges from a shelter at an internally displaced person camp in Mugunga, between Goma and Sake, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 22.

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  • Rebels pledge to 'liberate' Congo after seizing city

    James Akena / Reuters
    A United Nations peacekeepers' armored vehicle drives past rebels patrolling a street in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after they captured the city from the government army on Tuesday.

    By NBC News staff and wire reports
    GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- Rebel forces in eastern Congo said Wednesday they planned to take control of the entire country after capturing the city of Goma as United Nations peacekeepers looked on.
    A spokesman for the M23 rebels -- a group widely believed to be backed by Rwanda -- said they planned to "liberate" the country by marching on the capital, Kinshasa, nearly 1,000 miles away.
  • The rebels had previously said they were seeking talks with Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila.
    "The journey to liberate Congo has started now ... We're going to move on to Bukavu and then to Kinshasa. Are you ready to join us?" Vianney Kazarama, spokesman for the M23 rebels, told a crowd of more than 1,000 in a stadium in Goma.
    PhotoBlog: Congo police surrender as rebels take control of Goma
    Goma fell Tuesday when hundreds of rebel fighters poured into the city and government troops melted away after sporadic gunfire.
    Rebels used local radio and television stations to appeal for calm, but there are fears of human rights abuses and tens of thousands of people had already fled days of fighting between the rebels and U.N.-backed Congolese soldiers.
    Rebel soldiers attack Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rebels are allegedly backed by Rwanda and threaten troops backed by United Nations peacekeepers.'s Dara Brown reports.

    Rebel army seizes control of Congo city as UN peacekeepers do nothing
    The M23 rebellion has aggravated tensions between Congo and its neighbor Rwanda, which Kinshasa's government says is orchestrating the insurgency as a means of grabbing the region's mineral wealth, which includes diamonds, gold and coltan, a metal used in mobile phones.
    While conflict has simmered almost constantly in Congo's east in recent years, this is the first time Goma has fallen to rebels since foreign occupying armies officially pulled out under peace deals at the end of the most recent 1998-2003 war, dubbed "Africa's World War" because so many countries became involved.
    Aid agencies have estimated that 5 million people have died from fighting and conflict-related disease since the 1998 war began.
    Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images
    Twelve-year-old amputee Kakule Elie, who was hit by a stray bullet, lies in a bed in a hospital in Goma Tuesday.

    Congo rebel clashes stoke fears of broader conflict
    Diplomats at the United Nations and regional mediators in Central Africa have been seeking to prevent an escalation of hostilities in Congo, which is the size of Western Europe.
    Kabila and Rwandan Paul Kagame were due to meet later on Wednesday after holding three-way talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni late on Tuesday, sources in the Ugandan presidency said.
    Rights group blasts Rwanda winning seat on UN Security Council
    In New York, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution late on Tuesday condemning the seizure of Goma and demanding that M23’s forces should withdraw and disband.
    The council also expressed "deep concern at reports indicating that external support continues to be provided to the M23.”
    Hague war crimes court to finds Congo warlord guilty
    The French government expressed frustration with U.N. peacekeepers, who gave up the battle for the city of a million people after Congo's army retreated, saying it was "absurd" that the U.N. force did not protect the city.
    "MONUSCO [the U.N. force] is 17,000 soldiers, but sadly it was not in a position to prevent what happened," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said of the U.N.'s Congo mission. "It is necessary that the MONUSCO mandate is reviewed."
    Congo crisis exacerbated by heavy rains
    But a senior U.N. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the withdrawal of civilian and military Congolese officials had left a void it could not fill alone.
    "We're not the army of any country, let alone the Congolese army, and it's not for us to take positions by ourselves to stop a rebel attack or the movement of rebels," the official said. "Our job is to protect civilians.”
    Reuters contributed to this report.
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  • Congo rebel clashes stoke fears of broader conflict

    Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images
    A soldier of the M23 rebel group stands atop a hill overlooking Bunagana in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo on July 23, 2012. Several top commanders in the rebel movement were in Bunagana on Monday for a meeting, whilst a relative calm prevailed in the rebel-held territory.

    Phil Moore / AFP - Getty Images
    Colonel Sultani Makenga (seated inside vehicle), the commander of the M23 rebel group, drives through the town of Bunagana on July 23, 2012.

    The U.S. State Department announced on Sunday that it was cutting military aid to Rwanda following accusations that it had given backing to rebel groups in neighboring eastern Congo, Agence France Presse reported.
    More than 200,000 civilians have had to leave their homes and several hundred fighters have been killed in recent clashes between the M23 rebel group and the Congolese government, Reuters reports. Reports of support for rebel fighters from Rwanda have stoked fears of a slide into a broader central African conflict, although countries in the region last week agreed a plan to eradicate armed groups in eastern Congo.
    Previously on PhotoBlog:
    Alissa Everett / Reuters
    A displaced woman, who fled fighting near Walikale, holds her child at Magunga III camp, outside the city of Goma, on July 23, 2012.

    James Akena / Reuters
    A UN peacekeeping patrol drives through Goma on July 23, 2012.

    James Akena / Reuters
    Families fleeing fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels walk toward Goma on July 23, 2012.

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  • Who are the rebels in Goma and what do they want?

    M23 rebels have taken over a key city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

    By , Correspondent / November 20, 2012

    People walk past as M23 rebel soldiers take positions near the Heal Africa hospital in the center of Goma, Congo. Rebels calling themselves the March 23 Movement have taken over the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
    Melanie Gouby/AP


    Rebels calling themselves the March 23 Movement have taken over the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The country has seen a number of armed factions fighting in the east over the years. Here's what you need to know about this latest conflict.
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    Map of Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring African countries.
    Rich Clabaugh/Staff

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    Who is fighting whom, and why?
    The rebel force made up of deserters from the Congolese Army formed in the jungle hinterland of eastern Congo earlier this year, calling itself the March 23 Movement, after the date of a failed peace deal signed in 2009. It is now also known as the Congolese Revolutionary Army. It is made up almost entirely of soldiers from the Tutsi tribe, who were folded into Congo’s national Army following an earlier rebellion in 2008, which led to the 2009 agreement. But Tutsi commanders claimed the Congolese government was failing to promote their troops, or to honor peace deal promises of better pay, and they mutinied in April, with between 1,500 and 2,500 troops. Since then, they have been at war with the Army.
    What are the rebels’ goals?
    On the face of it, they have been fighting to win control of territory that they can later agree to give up in return for guarantees that the conditions of the March 2009 peace treaty are honored. Now that they control Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo and a base for many international aid agencies and the United Nations, they have a very strong hand in future negotiations. Beyond this strategy, however, the area the rebels are fighting over has vast troves of valuable mineral resources, and controlling the mines is extremely lucrative.
    What is Rwanda’s involvement in this?
    In 2008, the precursor to the M23 was the CNDP, led by a Tutsi general called Laurent Nkunda, who was said to be close to Rwanda’s government and its president, Paul Kagame. Mr. Nkunda was arrested and is under house arrest in Rwanda. But many of the CNDP’s commanders and troops now man the M23. This new group initially appeared to be less connected to Rwanda, which has a long history of military and political interference in its giant neighbor. However, a report to the UN Security Council in October claimed that Rwanda and Uganda were arming and financing the rebels, and in Rwanda’s case, supplying troops. Rwanda has strongly denied this.
    Why would Rwanda want to get involved?
    Ostensibly, to protect its border, and because it claims that Congo has failed to crush an armed group in its east made up of Hutu people who allegedly led Rwanda’s genocide in 1994. It was for this reason that Rwanda invaded Congo in 1996, installing a pro-Rwandan president, Laurent Kabila, as president in Kinshasa. Kabila and Rwanda later fell out, and central Africa fell into five years of war. Rwanda’s involvement may not, however, be limited to politics – eastern Congo is awash with minerals, and Rwanda reportedly supports rebel groups so that it can maintain access to mines producing gold, tin, and coltan, used in almost all consumer electronics, including mobile phones.

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    Map of Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring African countries.
    Rich Clabaugh/Staff

    Goma has fallen to the M23. What now?
    In the short term, the main concern is twofold. First, that the M23 rebels will go on a rampage of looting, rape, and violence. However, it appears that troops are well-disciplined, and in the past civilians have had more to fear from the temperamental Congolese armed forces, FARDC. The other concern is that the FARDC will be ordered back to Goma to fight to regain control, which would lead to high numbers of civilian casualties. Alongside these pressing worries, there are already more than 350,000 people camped in and around Goma who fled further fighting. If Goma remains unstable, aid workers cannot feed, shelter, and medically help those internally displaced people. Longer term, assuming M23 remains well-behaved, aid staff will continue their work until expected peace negotiations between the rebels and Kinshasa conclude.

    What can the international community do to help?
    The United Nations mission in Congo, called Monusco, is huge – 19,000 uniformed and 4,000 civilian staff. Its mandate is to protect civilians, which is why it had no legal requirement to halt the rebels’ advance on Goma if civilians were not caught in the crossfire in large numbers, which so far they have not been. It remains to be seen how Monusco will react to operating under M23 rule. Globally, Britain, the EU, and the US appear to have decided that blanket condemnations of the violence suffices. Perhaps the greatest lever the West has is to threaten further disruption of aid to Rwanda unless it uses its influence on the M23 – which Kigali denies it has – to force them to a quick settlement.

    It appears that this is a never-ending cycle of violence. How can it end?
    With great difficulty. Lasting peace requires that Rwanda halt its interference, with the Hutu rebels it seeks to be sent back to Rwanda to face justice. Equitable sharing of resources from the mines to benefit local people is necessary, as is greater trust from people living in Congo’s east that Kinshasa listens to its concerns. The Congolese Army requires a complete disciplinary, and some would say cultural, overhaul. At least a half dozen previous attempts to tick all of these boxes have failed.


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