The United Nations Security Council yesterday called on the government of DR Congo to forcibly disarm the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) militants who have defied international calls to disarm voluntarily.
It asked the UN peacekeepers in the neighbouring country, the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco), to support the military campaign against the fighters, largely blamed for 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which claimed at least one million lives.
In a press statement, released yesterday, the Council expressed concerns that the DR Congo-based militia had reneged on its own public promise to lay down arms and continues to ignore a six-month ultimatum by regional governments to disarm or face military action – half way through the disarmament window.
The six-month ultimatum was issued by regional leaders during a joint summit of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) on July 2 in Luanda, Angola.
But the Security Council “noted with deep concern that since that date no further voluntary surrenders of members of the FDLR have happened and the FDLR have failed to deliver on their public promise to voluntarily demobilize,” according to the statement.
ICGLR and SADC leaders are expected to hold another summit this month to review the progress on the ground three months ahead of the deadline.
Rwanda, a member of ICGLR, has previously expressed reservations about six months timeframe, saying the militia group was only playing games.
And the Council yesterday said dismantling the terrorist group was a top priority and key to pacifying the region.
“The members of the Security Council recalled that the swift neutralization of the FDLR is a top priority in bringing stability to and protecting the civilians of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region, in line with the wider commitments made in the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region,” the statement reads in part.
It adds: “They recalled that leaders and members of the FDLR were among the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed, and recalled that the FDLR is a group under United Nations sanctions, operating in the DRC, and which has continued to promote and commit ethnically based and other killings in Rwanda and in the DRC.”
The Security Council also “rejected any call for political dialogue with the FDLR and reaffirmed the need to arrest and bring to justice those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The Security Council reaffirmed its support for the regional commitments made by the ICGLR and SADC to end the threat of armed groups and undertake a three-month review of the FDLR disarmament process, it states.
The Council, however, ‘emphasised the importance of concluding this process swiftly, having a clearly defined end-state and supporting the process through credible military action by the DRC, with the support of MONUSCO’.
“They stressed that only substantial progress toward the full demobilization called for by the region and committed to by the FDLR could justify any further reprieve from military action against the FDLR.
“They noted that the Security Council would assess the demobilization process on the basis of progress on the ground, including the number of surrenders, in particular from the leadership, the number of working weapons handed over, the agreement of those surrendering to be transferred to holding areas determined by the DRC government in coordination with MONUSCO, and the transfer of control over territory to the DRC authorities.”
Furthermore, the members of the Security Council stressed that the Kinshasa government must guarantee humane conditions in all Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration camps, paying a particular attention to women and children.