A Rwandan rebel group, having ignored a deadline to surrender, now faces a fresh offensive by the Congolese army intended to end their years-long insurgency once and for all.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or the FDLR, numbers about 1,400 fighters, some of whom took part in the 1994 Rwanda genocide. It has been at the heart of over 20 years of conflict in the Great Lakes region of central Africa.
The United States welcomes the announcement by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo of the start of military operations against the FDLR. The group has inflicted immeasurable suffering on the civilian population of eastern DRC and Rwanda for over 20 years. The FDLR failed to deliver on its promise to surrender completely by January 2 and instead used the time to continue its human rights abuses, recruit new combatants and pursue its illegitimate political agenda.
The United States fully supports DRC military operations with the United Nations stabilization mission in the DRC, or MONUSCO, against those FDLR members who have failed to surrender. We encourage the DRC and MONUSCO to continue their coordination and joint planning and to take immediate steps to end the threat from the FDLR.
It is critical, however, that these military operations being conducted in a way that protects and minimizes the impact on civilians, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law, and in line with the U.N.’s human rights due diligence policy. The neutralization of the FDLR will contribute to long-term peace and stability for the people of the Great Lakes region.