The October resumption of fighting in the Eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo shattered a fragile, six-month long calm: six months of relative tranquility that, according to the United Nations, “has not improved at all, on the contrary” on the “security or humanitarian levels.” Indeed, “the risk of a direct confrontation between the DRC and Rwanda, who continue to accuse each other of supporting armed groups … is very real.”
The resumption of fighting is a continuation of last October’s second uprising of the M23 group, consisting mostly of Tutsis from neighboring Rwanda, and other armed groups. They are mostly interested in illegally extracting Congo’s mineral resources, although M23 also claims to be defending Tutsis living in the DRC.
“The security situation in the Great Lakes region remains dire and continues to deteriorate as tensions between the DRC and Rwanda grow,” said US Representative to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “Once again, I repeat our call for Rwanda to immediately end its support for the UN-sanctioned M23 and withdraw from DRC territory. We also call for the FARDC to cut ties with the UN-sanctioned FDLR.”
As well, “We call on regional troops deployed to eastern DRC, whether bilaterally or through the East African Community, to coordinate with each other and [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo],” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “And they must … avoid human rights violations and abuses and illicit activities, including illicit mineral extraction.”
“Because of the region’s instability, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated to alarming levels. Conflict has displaced more than half a million people in 2023 alone, many of whom are being forced to live without access to adequate food, water, or medical care in camps filled far beyond capacity,” she said.
“Ongoing political instability has devastated food production and distribution, resulting in widespread food shortages,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “1.5 million people are facing emergency levels of food insecurity, and this is simply unacceptable in the twenty-first century. A man-made political crisis has become a man-made humanitarian crisis, and it must end.”
“I call on regional leaders to maintain an open dialogue, especially as the DRC’s national elections approach,” said Ambassador Thomas- Greenfield. “These elections must be free and fair for everyone, including women and minority communities. All Congolese civilians deserve the right to live in peace, and to have their voice heard at the polls.”