Democratic Republic of Congo: Sky Getting Darker

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 3 Jul 2023

René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

30 Jun 2023 – The armed conflict in the eastern area of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on the frontier with Rwanda seems to be growing worse and is impacting in a negative way the lives of people.  The current fighting adds to the insecurity of the area and has virtually stopped cross-frontier activities largely done by women small traders.  As a result, the price of existing food supplies has increased greatly, and shortages are to be feared.

The current armed conflict is among a Tutsi-led militia, Movement du 23 mars (M23), the forces of the DRC government and different ethnic militias.  The President of the DRC, Felix Tshisehed, sponsored the creation of local militias to help government soldiers, but the government does not control these militias.  The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) which has been in the DRC since 1989 is the largest U.N. peacekeeping force with some 15,000 members.  However, it has been unable to halt the fighting or to protect civilians.  In fact, the area of conflict has grown and engendered a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, causing the displacement of more than one million civilians in North Kivu Province. The M23 has recently launched attempts to win allies in South Kivu Province, in particular the armed group Twirwaneko, with the objective of opening a front in South Kivu.

The government of Rwanda has become increasingly involved in the Kivu conflict with direct intervention by the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and, despite a theoretical U.N. sponsored arms embago, with weapons and other military equipment.  The M23 is also fighting against the Forces démocratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) a Hutu-led group hostile to the government of Rwanda.

Recent attacks by M23 on populations associated with, or presumed to support the FDLR, have grown.  Incidents of rape, including gang rape, by M23 combatants are prevalent but are not limited to the M23. The armed conflict is colored by a tense political  situation with general elections, most significantly a presidential election, scheduled for December 2023.

The increased violence indicates the need for local non-governmental peacebuilding efforts which can be also facilitated by international NGOs.  There is also a greater need to build respect for International Humanitarian Law.  The needs are great, and we must see what we are able to do.

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René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 3 Jul 2023.

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