- The United National peacekeeping mission in DRC has decided to back Congolese forces for root out ethnic Hutu militias in eastern DRC allegedly committing serious atrocities against civilians and causing fear of renewed Rwandan engagement in eastern Congo.
According to a news release issued by the Mission last weekend, the UN mission has helped the Congolese troops to plan an attack against the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) and supplied support units in the eastern province.
The operation, launched on 28 May, is targeted at assembly areas of the Rwandan FDLR in the Lubero Territory, north of Goma, where rebels have been operating since the end of the genocide in 1994.
The Mission's communiqué said the FDLR has been retaliating against civilians and attacking villages in North Kivu, committing rape and other human rights abuses following the attacks. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the clashes have forced close to 400,000 people from their homes.
MONUC said that the objective of this latest operation, led by the Congolese army, is to put pressure on the FDLR and prevent threats against vulnerable populations in the area, adding that the success of the strike will be determined at a later date.
In January to late February, the Rwandan and Congolese armed forces had conducted an unprecedented joint operation in North Kivu against the FDLR, former occasional supplementary FARDC which led to the arrest of renegade rebel leader, General Laurent Nkunda.
An estimated 6,000 FDRL fighters are reportedly settled in eastern DRC forests. The Hutu militia is put in connection with groups co-responsible for the Rwandan 1994 genocide and their activities in the DRC earlier has caused Rwanda to take military action across the border.
The upsurge in fighting in North Kivu province bordering Rwanda and growing involvement of neighbouring states is jeopardising moves to end the conflict had raised fears of a repeat of the 1998 to 2003 DRC war.
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