Featured Image: Movement militiamen M23 and Type 85 heavy machine gun. By Al Jazeera English, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
Despite the presence of some 14,000 United Nations peacekeepers (Monusco) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC), instability continues to grow, especially in the North Kivu area at the frontiers with Rwanda and Uganda.
Le Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23).
Recently, there have been violent demonstrations against the U.N. forces accused by some of an unwillingness to fight actively against anti-government armed militias especially Le Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) in North Kivu. The governmental authorities of the RDC have accused the government of Rwanda of giving support to the M23. Rwandan army personnel are said to be active in raids along with M23 troops. There have been reports by both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch making the same accusations based on interviews with witnesses and victims. Tensions between the governments of RDC and Rwanda are growing, and there is a danger of a spillover impact with people using violence on their own. The RDC government has been creating its own armed militias in North Kivu but with little control over their activities.
The situation in RDC.
The United Nations Security Council is to take up a report of U.N. experts on the situation in RDC, but it is difficult to see what more can be done. The Security Council has no operational control over the Monusco peacekeepers. The U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in both RDC and Rwanda from 10 to 12 August 2022 and no doubt urged calm and cooperation. It is unclear what else the U.S.A. may have proposed or be willing to do.
This is the official State Department photo for Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, taken at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on February 9, 2021. [State Department Photo by Ronny Przysucha/ Public Domain]. By U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Now is the time for concerted action among non-governmental organizations and the U.N. system.
The already unstable and complex situation is likely to become more unstable unless there are strong measures by civil society organizations in RDC, Rwanda, and Uganda. Such civil society action has been weak or lacking in the past. Now is the time for concerted action among non-governmental organizations and the U.N. system. Churches and other religious-based groups are probably the only civil society organizations structured to act relatively quickly before the wave of disorder grows.
René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.