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Violence In DRC

A fifteen-member United Nations Security Council delegation has called on all militias and armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, to disarm. Of special concern is the armed group, Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda or FDLR. During a visit to the war-torn DRC on June 8th and 9th, the delegation leader, French ambassador to the UN Jean Maurice Ripert, said the UN Security Council “requires the FDLR to surrender and cease terrorizing the local population.” The Security Council, he said, “will not hesitate, even if it means to engage, if necessary, with more restrictive measures for the individual persons in charge who have committed crimes.”

The FDLR is an illegal armed group composed almost entirely of Rwandan ethnic Hutus, a number of whom participated in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. On June 4th, an element of the FDLR brutally attacked a refugee camp in the Rutshuru area of the DRC’s North Kivu province. At least nine people were reported killed and scores of others wounded. Witnesses said the raiders looted the camp and fired indiscriminately at the refugees, including children. The United States government strongly condemned the attack. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa issued a statement saying “the United States will do everything possible to see that those who committed this act will be held responsible and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

The attack occurred at a time when other elements of the FDLR are cooperating with the Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo, pursuant to the Nairobi Communique of November 9, 2007 and the roadmap for disarming all illegal armed groups in the DRC that was agreed on May 26th in Kisangani. Clearly, the extremist elements of the FDLR have used violence to impede progress towards a lasting peace.

The U.S. again calls on all FDLR groups to take advantage of the opportunity available to the through the Nairobi Communique and the Kisangani Conference to immediately lay down their arms and return to Rwanda or face serious consequences.