The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Urged Clashes between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the M23 Rebel Group to Cease Immediately
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
Clashes between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the M23 rebel group formed in 2012 to defend the interests of Congolese Tutsis against Hutu have intensified since October 20th, causing the death and harm of hundreds of civilians. Over the past days, the stage of the armed confrontation has been a strategic highway in eastern DRC, the RN2 leading to the provincial capital Goma. Thanks to the capture of strategic villages and settlements around the highway, the M23 rebels group was able to effectively cut Goma off from the upper half of the province. (UN News, 2022; Africa News, 2022; Reuters, 2022)
Following the events, DRC gave a 48 hours notice to the Rwandan Ambassador Vincent Karega to leave the country, accused of supporting the M23 rebel groups. Despite over the years Rwanda has always denied such accusations, the decision of the DRC will most likely intensify tensions between the countries. This circumstance does not benefit the already insecurity apparatus resulting from the resurgence of armed confrontation between DRC and M23 since late 2021, which has caused the killing and forced displacement of thousands of civilians. (AlJazeera, 2022) The clashes ongoing since October 20th, 2022, resulted in the killing of four civilians and the displacement of around 23,000 people. (Reuters, 2022) UN peacekeepers have also been exposed to great risks, with four of them being injured during M23 attacks last Saturday. In denouncing such attacks, MONUSCO recalled that the targeting of UN peacekeepers may constitute war crimes prosecutable before national and/or international tribunals. (UN News, 2022)
Setting the protection of civilians as a priority, also by facilitating access to humanitarian assistance, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate de-escalation of the conflict, urging “the M23 and other armed groups to immediately cease hostilities and to disarm unconditionally.” While highlighting the crucial importance of respecting “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Mr. Guterres reiterated “the full support of the United Nations for the ongoing mediation.” (UN News, 2022)
Sources and Further Readings:
Africa News (October 28, 2022), DR Congo army clashes with M23 rebels around strategic eastern highway, Africa News, retrieved on November 1st, 2022, from https://www.africanews.com/2022/10/28/dr-congo-army-clashes-with-m23-rebels-around-strategic-eastern-highway/.
AlJazeera (October 30, 2022), DR Congo expels Rwandan ambassador as M23 rebels seize towns, AlJazeera News, retrieved on November 1st, 2022, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/10/30/dr-congo-expels-rwandan-ambassador-as-m23-rebels-gain-ground
Reuters (October 31, 2022), Congo expels Rwanda ambassador as M23 rebels capture strategic town, Reuters News, retrieved on November 1st, 2022, from https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/congos-m23-rebels-capture-key-north-kivu-town-2022-10-29/.
United Nations (October 31, 2022), DR Congo: Guterres ‘deeply concerned’ by resurgence of fighting between Government troops and M23, UN News, retrieved on November 1st, 2022, from https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/10/1130037.