- A panel of UN investigators have said a UN backed military operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo has failed to destroy Rwandan rebel groups in the eastern part of the country.
In a communiqué issued by the experts, it was noted that the joint military offensive against the mainly ethnic Hutu group, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), has forced several hundred thousand people to flee their homes.
The FDLR’s leaders have allegedly participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which killed 800, 000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus in the 100 days of slaughter.
According to the experts, the mission has aggravated the conflict in North and South Kivu provinces instead of resolving the root causes of the long dragging violence in the region.
The experts further accuse the mission for allowing a former Rwandan-backed, ethnic Tutsi-led rebel group to take over some of the region’s largest tin-ore mines, including Bisie, which accounts for 70 percent of North Kivu province’s tin ore, or cassiterite, output.
“Former members of the group, the National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, operate beyond the control of the Congolese army, smuggling minerals and killing civilians,” the report has said.
Congo's army, backed by the 25,000-strong UN force, launched an offensive against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda earlier this year as part of a deal to improve ties with neighbouring Rwanda, its enemy during the 1998-2003 war.
Earlier this month, the UN suspended its support to army units it believed were responsible for killing around 60 civilians in operations against the Mai Mai. However, the group of experts suggested this may not be enough to address incessant rebellion in the region.
The panel said despite the surrender of more than 1,200 of its estimated 6,000-to-8,000 fighters, the FDLR continues to replenish its ranks through the active recruitment of both Congolese and Rwandan Hutus.
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