The European Union (EU) has firmly urged Rwanda to stop supporting the “Mouvement du 23 mars” (M23) armed group in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, DR Congo). The call came Saturday as part of a statement by Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on behalf of the EU.
Since March 2022, fighting between the M23 rebels and Congolese government troops has forced more than 500,000 people to flee their homes in the eastern North Kivu province. Ruanda has long been accused of supporting the rebel group. A recent report by a group of independent United Nations (UN) experts - mandated by the UN Sanctions Committee on the DR Congo - found strong evidence that Ruanda supported the M23, among others by supplying weapons, ammunition and uniforms.
In its statement, the EU welcomed the work and the report of the UN group of experts and said it was deeply troubled by its findings, and fully supports its recommendations. The European Union urged the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda to respond in full to the report’s findings.
“More specifically, the EU firmly urges Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 and use all means to press the M23 to comply with the decisions taken by the EAC (i.e. East African Community) and at the Mini-Summit on Peace and Security in the Eastern Region of the DRC in Luanda on 23 November 2022, “ the statement said.
The European Union also firmly urged “all States of the region to prevent the provision of any support to armed groups active in the DRC”. It calls on the Democratic Republic of Congo to stop and prevent any cooperation between the Armed Forces of the DR Congo (FARDC) and armed groups, notably the FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda ) rebel group, and “to take all measures necessary to protect the civilian population in its territory.”
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is facing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the world, and the situation in the country is one of the most neglected displacement crises globally. For decades, the country has endured multiple, overlapping emergencies driven mainly by conflict and forced displacement.
With 6.6 million forcibly displaced people, the DR Congo has more displacement than any other country in Africa. Some 5.6 million people are internally displaced within the country, mainly in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, while 1 million refugees and asylum seekers from DRC are hosted in neighboring countries.
Full text: Democratic Republic of the Congo: Statement by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the publication of the recent UN Group of Experts report , Council of the EU, press release, published December 31, 2022