Featured Image: Photo by Flow Clark, Unsplash.
As if there were not already enough tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), there is a renewal of fighting since mid-October in the province of North Kivu, Goma being the central city. The current armed conflict is between a Tutsi-led militia, M23, and the forces of the RDC government.
The government estimates that some 200,000 people have been displaced. The President of the RDC, Felix Tshisekedi, has called for the creation of local militias to help the government soldiers. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) which has been in the RDC since 1999 and is the largest U.N. peacekeeping force of some 15,000 members, has been unable to halt the fighting and is increasingly criticized by the local population.
The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E. Mr. Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo. By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.
The RDC government accuses Rwanda of being the backers of the M23, accusations which Rwanda denies. In response, the Rwanda government accuses the DRC of supporting an anti-Rwanda armed militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu-led militia. Both the Tutsi and the Hutu are in the RDC since the 1993 genocide fighting in Rwanda. The current fighting adds to the insecurity of the area. The fighting has also largely stopped cross-frontier commercial activities, largely done by women small traders. As a result, the price of existing food supplies has increased greatly, and shortages are to be feared.
Rutshuru, North Kivu, DR Congo. MONUSCO Special Forces and units from the Intervention Brigade approaching Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) positions during a MONUSCO-FARDC joint operation. This type of intervention which allowed the complete destruction of FDLR bases and with the aim of disrupting the armed group’s plans and harmful activities will continue for as long as necessary. Photo MONUSCO/Force. By MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
The fighting has increased tensions between Rwanda and the RDC, tensions which also impact relations with Uganda, which has received a good number of refugees from the RDC and with Burundi, an unstable country. There is a start of Rwanda-RDC negotiations in Angola under the leadership of the Angolan government. However, the lack of trust between Rwanda and the RDC is great, and broader international efforts would be useful. There is also a need for local non-governmental peacebuilding efforts which can also be facilitated by international NGOs. The situation requires close attention and if possible, speedy action.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.