Thursday , April 25 2024

UNSC sanctions rebels in Congo as violence escalates


UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has sanctioned the leaders of six armed groups fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo amid escalating violence in the country’s restive northeastern region.

“We are pleased that as of today, six additional armed group leaders will be designated by the UN DRC Sanctions Committee,” said Robert Wood, the United States deputy permanent representative to the UN, in a statement on Tuesday.

“These individuals are responsible for numerous abuses,” Wood said.

The committee imposed an arms embargo, travel ban, and asset freeze on two leaders of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one leader from the Twirwaneho armed group, and one from the National Coalition of the People for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC) rebels.

Also added to the UN list were the military spokesperson for the M23 Tutsi-led rebels and a leader with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), founded by Hutus who fled Rwanda after taking part in the 1994 genocide of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Tuesday’s decision comes as violence in the country’s northeast has displaced nearly seven million people in the past three decades as more than 120 armed groups vie for the mineral-rich region’s control. Civilians fleeing from fighting describe harrowing accounts of these groups’ violence, from summary executions and abductions to sexual violence.

Fighting there has renewed in intensity since the M23 rebel group picked up arms again in 2021 after being dormant for nearly a decade.

Kinshasa, alongside the US and the UN, accuses neighbouring Rwanda of backing the group. Kigali denies the allegations.

“Rwanda and the DRC must walk back from the brink of war,” Wood said.

In February, the group surrounded Sake, a town whose control could pave the way for the capture of Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

The M23’s advance last week caused the Congolese army to reposition itself east of Sake, according to an assessment by Bintou Keita, the DRC’s special representative of the UN secretary-general and chief of the country’s UN mission (MONUSCO).

“The fighting has further compounded an already dire humanitarian situation,” Keita said, as more people are forced to find refuge in severely overcrowded sites in and around Goma.

More than 400,000 people fled their homes, including 65,000 in the past two weeks causing a dramatic surge in cases of cholera due to a lack of safe drinking water, she said. (Int’l News Desk)

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