Tag Archives: UK and Rwanda

Oxford University’s business school faces protests over visit by Rwanda president Paul Kagame

17 May

FRIDAY 17 MAY 2013

There are plans to present him with a student award despite continuing controversy over his regime’s human rights record

Oxford University’s prestigious business school has been dragged into a row over plans to present the president of Rwanda with a student award for his country’s economic development despite continuing controversy over his regime’s human rights record.

Paul Kagame, the one-time poster boy of development whose reputation has been dulled by accusations of authoritarianism and fomenting conflict in Congo, will be greeted by protesters when he attends the Said Business School tomorrow to give a keynote conference speech.

A coalition of campaigners, including Congolese refugees and a prominent Oxford academic, are  backing calls for the university to cancel the invitation, saying it amounts to a vote of confidence in Mr Kagame at a time when he is under pressure over human rights violations.

The clash is the latest controversy to surround the Rwandan leader, who last year saw Britain suspend £16m of direct budgetary support to his government over “credible” reports that it was supporting the M23 rebel group responsible for atrocities in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The continuing dispute has done little to dent enthusiasm in financial and political circles for Rwanda’s continued economic growth, which will reach eight per cent this year. The country’s first ever sale of Eurobonds this month, securing $400m in funding for infrastructure and investment projects, was over-subscribed.

In a sign of thawing relations with Britain, which remains Rwanda’s largest single aid donor, the country’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, met the foreign secretary William Hague on Thursday as part of the visit to London by a sizable Rwandan delegation.

But critics said the decision by the Oxford Business Network for Africa, a student organisation within the business school, to make Mr Kagame the first recipient of its Distinction of Honour for African Growth risked tainting the university.

A petition calling on the student group and the business school to cancel the award had yesterday reached nearly 5,500 signatures. A counter-petition, applauding the award, had collected 2,300 signatures.

In a letter to the dean of the school, Professor Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding director of the university’s respected Refugee Studies Centre, said: “Bestowing any honour upon Mr Kagame at a time when he and his government are becoming increasingly isolated in the face of mounting evidence of their gross human rights violations represents a serious error of judgment.

“It positions the conference organizers and the University of Oxford against international efforts to pressure Mr Kagame to end his abuses and play a more constructive role in the achievement of African peace and development.”

A spokesman for a coalition of Congolese and Rwandan opposition groups, including Liberation, a Congolese women’s rights group, added: “It would be a disgrace for any university of Oxford’s calibre to ignore all the information in the public domain about Kagame’s crimes both on his people and abroad, and roll out a red carpet for him.”

The business school, ranked in the top ten outside the United States, underlined that the award was the decision of the student group but said it was allowing today’s event to go ahead because of its commitment to freedom of speech.

In a statement, the school said: “We prize open discussion and … we have not sought to prevent the students from extending this invitation. President Kagame’s presence in the Saïd Business School does not imply any endorsement by the school or the university of his views or actions. We are aware that President Kagame is considered by some to be a controversial figure.”

The student group defended its award, saying it was “in recognition of [Mr Kagame’s] work in opening and developing Rwanda’s economy” and there would be an opportunity for those critical of his government to raise questions.

The Rwandan High Commission in London did not respond to requests from The Independent to comment on the criticisms of Mr Kagame, who will also attend a Rwanda Day celebration for hundreds of members of the Rwandan diaspora while in London.

Rwanda has strongly denied any involvement in M23 and condemned a United Nations report chronicling links between the group and senior members of the Rwandan military. Critics have also accused Mr Kagame of trampling on media and political freedoms, maintaining a hostile environment for opposition politicians.

The Independent revealed that Scotland Yard also served notices on two UK-based dissidents  in 2011 warning them of “reliable intelligence” that their lives were under threat from assassins sent by the Rwandan authorities.

Britain earlier this year reinstated aid to Rwanda after halting direct budgetary support to the country last November because of the activities of M23. The £16m will be distributed in the form of direct payments to impoverished Rwandans and textbooks for schoolchildren.

The Independent understands there are no immediate plans to reinstate direct aid payments to the Rwandan government.

Source: The Indepandant

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Controversy over visit of Rwandan President

9 May

09/05/2013

By News Team

Unease has been expressed concerning g a scheduled visit of Rwandan president Paul Kagame to the Säid Business School, in light of numerous allegations accusing him of human rights violations.

Mr Kagame is due to arrive in Oxford on Friday 18thMay, when he will deliver a keynote address in the Oxford Africa Business Conference as well as being awarded the inaugural Distinction of Honour for African Growth Award.

The decision to give Mr Kagame this award in light the recent allegations has been questioned by a number of academics and students, who have started a campaign calling for the Säid Business School to cancel their engagement with him.

The Oxford Africa Business Conference is a student led organization and the decision to award Kagame the honour was taken by students of the Business School.

Salvator Cusimano, an M.Sc candidate in Refugee studies and leader of the campaign against Mr Kagame’s visit, commented: “As it stands, the University will appear to condone Mr. Kagame’s actions at a time when even the governments of the United States and the UK – Rwanda’s staunchest allies – have distanced themselves from Mr. Kagame and his government.

“As members of the Oxford community, we have a responsibility to use our influence to reverse the Business School’s serious error of judgment.

“We have a unique opportunity to promote human rights and defend our University’s reputation, and we must act. “

The campaign has sent a letter to the Dean of the Business School, the Vice-Chancellor of the University as well as the head of the African Studies Centre detailing why the visit should be cancelled, and has started an e-petition which has received over 260 signatures in its first 24 hours.

The Säid Business School has commented “We prize open discussion and in line with the University’s Freedom of Speech policy the students have invited President Kagame to speak and there will be the opportunity for those present to challenge him as appropriate.

“We are aware that President Kagame is a controversial figure and his presence here implies no endorsement of his views or actions. We have taken the view that it’s appropriate to ask him to address any issues that are put to him from a platform in Oxford.”

The controversy surrounding Kagame stems from the accusation that he has silenced opposition politicians and journalists support for rebels in DMC including the paramilitary M23 movement, and illegal exploitation of Congolese resources.

Dominic Burridge, a DPhil Candidate from Oriel College, commented: “The proposal from the Säid Business School to give a Distinction of Honor for African Growth Award to Paul Kagame cannot fall under the criticism of endorsing human rights violations per se because it is making an economic assessment only.

“In this way, the decision errs on the side of a greater tragedy. It is a categorical statement that, in Africa, economics should matter more than society and ethics, and that those who have been accused of brutalising regions through natural resource greed should be decorated as economic leaders.”

The conference website has ignored the controversies surrounding Kagame, and instead focused on some of the successes of his presidency, including the reconciliation after the Rwandan genocide and relatively strong growth in GDP.

As a result they have feted that Kagame’s presidency has “set Rwanda on its current course towards reconciliation, nation building and socioeconomic development.”

A letter delivered to the Säid Business School the campaign has argued: “Mr. Kagame’s Rwanda bears several disturbing similarities to Rwanda under the genocidal government.

“Reconciliation appears superficial: despite a law prohibiting speech with ethnic content – known as genocide ideology – the ethnic tensions that fuelled genocide in 1994 seem alive beneath the surface.”

Amongst the supporters of the campaign are a number of academics and students.  One academic said that is “concerning” that the conference organisers  have invited Kagame to the Säid Business School given the ongoing dispute concerning his human rights record in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide.

Mr Kagame took office in 2000, after spending six years as Vice President in the years immediately after the Rwandan genocide, before winning democratic elections for the presidency in 2003 and 2010.

Source: The Oxford Student

UK to channel £9m in aid through Rwanda government programme

13 Mar

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Cash transfers provided under ‘reprogrammed’ UK aid package will be disbursed using Rwanda’s social protection scheme

Ramadhan, who benefited from a DfID-backed agriculture programme, weeding his rice field with wife Amina in Rugina, Rwanda, in 2009. Photograph: Tiggy Ridley/DfID

The British government will give £9m to a programme run by the Rwandan government, three months after freezing general budget support to the country amid allegations that it financed rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The bulk of a £16m package of “reprogrammed” funding to the country,announced on 1 March by Justine Greening, the international development secretary, will be disbursed through the Vision 2020 Umurenge programme (VUP), a social protection initiative owned and led by the Rwandan government. The scheme will be used to make unconditional cash payments totalling £9m to 545,000 of Rwanda‘s most disadvantaged people.

The Department for International Development (DfID) defines funding provided under the VUP as “financial aid to government”. It was previously classified as sector budget support (finance for a specific area of government activity related to poverty reduction); a World Bank aide memoire dated September-October 2009 said DfID would contribute £19.7m over four years (2009-12) to the VUP in “sectoral budget support”. In short, the UK has redefined the nature of its payments.

A summary published this week on the DfID website said UK support for the VUP, in the form of financial aid and technical co-operation, would total £29.03m between 2008 and 2013. UK payments will be administered by the Rwandan government, with funds paid into a separate bank account that will be independently monitored and audited.

It is understood that the money will not be subject to partnership principles, the criteria recipient countries must meet to receive budget support (aid given directly to governments). These criteria cover poverty reduction and the millennium development goals, respect for human rights, good governance, transparency and accountability.

Britain’s decision to channel development assistance through a government programme, barely three months after withholding £21m in aid to Rwanda due to a breach of partnership principles, is being closely scrutinised.

Ivan Lewis, the shadow development secretary, said: “[Greening] needs to come clean about DfID’s relationship with Rwanda. On the one hand, the UK government is claiming egregious behaviour by the Rwandan government sufficient to suspend direct support, while on the other dispersing £9m to a cash transfer programme administered by the very same government.

“How can the secretary of state expect the UK public, let along the Rwandan government, to take her claims of support for long-term stability in the region seriously?”

The VUP, which was set up by the Rwandan government in 2009 with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty in the country by 2020, is overseen by the ministry of local government, delivered by the local development support fund (an agency of the local government ministry), and supported by the ministry of finance and economic planning. The scheme is regarded as a flagship component of Rwanda’s economic development and poverty reduction strategy.

“The VUP is a very strongly government-owned programme, even though it’s largely externally financed,” said Stephen Devereux, of the Institute of Development Studies, who was commissioned by DfID to assess the programme between 2009 and 2011. “In many other countries, you find that donors decide what projects are going to be run because they put the money in. But in Rwanda, which is very similar to Ethiopia, the government is very strongly in charge of the programme even though it’s funded by a pool of donors. Donors put the money in, but all the decisions are taken by the government …

“[Rwanda’s attitude is:] ‘We appreciate the donors, but we are not donor dependent and we don’t kowtow to them’ – which means that, although they do depend on donor money, they don’t act like it. They behave very strongly and autonomously, and make their own decisions. If the donors don’t like it, then they must withdraw their money.”

Greening’s announcement of the reprogrammed funding, none of which will be disbursed as general budget support, was widely reported as an attempt to bypass the Kigali government in the wake of a November report (pdf) that, she said at the time, provided “credible and compelling” evidence of Rwandan support for the M23 militia in Congo.

Chantal Daniels, Christian Aid’s Great Lakes policy and advocacy officer, called for clarity on DfID aid to Rwanda. “If DfID defines this money as other funds distributed via the Rwandan government, then this really requires more attention on what this exactly means from all of us,” she said.

“The UK is one of the main donors in both the DRC and Rwanda, so they have to take a firmer stance on Rwanda, especially if they recognise that it breached the partnership principles by supporting the M23. We believe that by reprogramming UK funds to Rwanda, we ensure that the poorest receive assistance while a clear signal is given to the Rwandan government that meddling in other countries is not accepted. Considering the breach of partnership principles by the Rwandan government, we are currently not in favour of distributing funds through the Rwandan government.”

Britain has been one of the largest bilateral donors to Rwanda. In the past, development assistance accounted for about 40% of the east African country’s budget. Rwanda was among 11 signatories to a regional peace agreement signed last month, and has been praised for progress on poverty alleviation

Source: The Guardian

Britain to give £16m Rwanda aid direct to humanitarian agencies

1 Mar

FRIDAY 01 MARCH 2013

Britain is to give £16m in aid to Rwanda after support for the country was suspended amid claims that its rulers were linked to militias accused of rape and murder.

The cash will be channelled direct to humanitarian agencies rather than paid to the Rwandan government as originally planned.

Ministers have spoken of their dismay over evidence that Rwanda is helping the rebel M23 movement in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

They had planned in November to give Rwanda £21m, but Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, decided to withhold the cash.

An earlier £16m tranche of “general budget support” for Paul Kagame’s government was signed off by her predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, on his last day in office in September.

Ms Greening said yesterday: “This reprogrammed development spend will be channelled through projects that directly reach and protect the poorest people in Rwanda.”

She said money would be targeted on 500,000 Rwandans living in extreme poverty and to pay for almost two million school textbooks. It will also support aid agencies working in refugee camps.

Ms Greening said: “The UK Government remains fully committed to supporting long-term solutions which bring stability and resolve the causes of conflict in eastern DRC and will continue to work with our international and regional partners to achieve this goal.”

Source: The Independent

Rwanda’s genocide and the bloody legacy of Anglo-American guilt

12 Dec

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Failure to intervene in 1994’s horror means the US and UK have refused to rein in President Paul Kagame’s excesses in Congo

Former US President Bill Clinton meets Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame during a visit to Kigali in 2006. Photograph: Reuters

The United States is allowing one tragic foreign policy failure to compound another.

Eighteen years ago, President Bill Clinton watched passively as the Hutu extremist regime in Rwanda oversaw the murder of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis. His administration refused even to utter the word genocide for fear it would oblige the US to intervene.

Clinton wasn’t alone. One of the leaders of the Tutsi rebels fighting the genocidal regime told me at the time that during his attempts to persuade the UK government to intervene at the UN, he concluded that British officials regarded the Tutsi victims as little more than ants. The French spent their time trying to get the UN to authorise action that would have propped up the Hutu extremist leadership because they feared the alternative would diminish Paris’s influence in central Africa.

The aftermath was a searing experience for Clinton, his Africa gurus and national security advisers – one of whom is now the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, who may well replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state – that has continued to shape American policy toward Rwanda. When the fighting ended, the true cost of western inaction was laid bare at the mass graves.

The scale of the killing was mind-boggling. I saw it first hand a church in the small town of Kibuye, where 11,000 were murdered in a single day and 10,000 more were killed the following day in the football stadium.

So it was only natural that, driven by a large dose of guilt, the US, Britain and other western countries – although, tellingly, not France – should throw their backing behind the man who put an end to the genocide and promised to build a new Rwanda: Paul Kagame. Nearly two decades later, though, guilt over the genocide has led the west to stand by while another crime is committed – this time, by Kagame and his forces in neighbouring Congo, where they are directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, some say millions.

Finally, Britain and Europe are waking up to this, following the comprehensive UN investigation charting Rwanda’s role in creating and arming a Congolese rebel group, M23, led by a man wanted by theInternational Criminal Court on war crimes charges. But the US still hesitates to tell Kagame that one crime does not justify another.

The Rwandan leader inherited an incredibly difficult situation in 1994. As a Tutsi, he was viewed with suspicion by the Hutu majority, which feared retribution. Kagame had not only to rebuild the country but to bring the guilty to justice, with meagre resources, while promoting reconciliation and ridding his country of officially sanctioned anti-Tutsi hatred. He has done better than might have been expected given the obstacles he faced. Early on, Kagame also had to contend with the Hutu extremist forces, which fled into what was then neighbouring Zaire and continued to threaten Rwanda.

Washington and London were unflinching in their support when, in 1996, Rwanda invaded Zaire to clear the sprawling UN refugee camps that housed the genocidal forces running murderous cross-border raids and threatening to kick start a new genocide. That invasion was justified – but support for Kagame should have been tempered by the actions of his army, which hunted down and massacred Hutus who failed to return to the Rwanda.

Many of them could be regarded as a legitimate enemy. But many were not, including the thousands of women and children slaughtered by the Rwandan military and its proxies. This was also the start of the mass rape by armed groups that has since plagued eastern Congo.

The Rwandan military, with its allies from Uganda and Burundi, then turned to the extremely lucrative plunder of Congo’s valuable minerals. That was the point at which the US and Britain should have made a stand. Instead, they turned a blind eye.

It was right that the west’s policy should be guided by guilt over the original genocide. It was right to support Rwanda’s reconstruction. But that tiny country’s future and the stability of central Africa have not been served by Washington and London’s years of unquestioning support of Kagame on the grounds that he has a good record on reconstruction and development (in expanding rural healthcare, getting children into school and building programmes to help small-scale family farmers), while all but ignoring what he is doing across Rwanda’s western border.

The Americans and the British have more recently been prepared to chide Kagame privately for closing down political space – which means no effective opposition has been allowed to develop to challenge his lengthy rule. Opponents have been jailed on the spurious grounds of spreading genocide ideology, and dissenters have been driven into exile.

But on Rwanda’s involvement in Congo, there has been virtual silence.

Who knows how many have died there – some studies put it in the millions – but various forces allied to the Rwandans have been responsible for years of murder, mass rape and forms of ethnic cleansing. This is tragic in its own right. But it is also not good for Rwanda’s future because it is contributing to the very instability it says it intervened in Congo to prevent.

After 15 years of invasions, insurgencies and trauma, a generation is emerging in eastern Congo that blames Rwanda for its suffering. And when those Congolese talk about Rwandans in this context, they often mean Tutsis.

Kagame has influential friends. Bill Clinton continues to defend him, describing Kagame as “one of the greatest leaders of our time” and Rwanda as “the best-run nation in Africa”. It’s hard to imagine that view doesn’t have some influence on his wife, the US secretary of state. Similarly, Rwanda policy is also strongly influenced by Susan Rice, who has spoken of her deep regret at her part in American inaction during the genocide.

Kagame also has a strong supporter in Tony Blair, who runs a foundation in Rwanda, which places officials in the president’s policy unit, the prime minister’s office and the cabinet secretariat. Two years ago, I asked Blair about Kagame. The former British prime minister called the Rwandan president a “visionary leader” and a friend. He said allowances had to be made for the consequences of the genocide and suggested Kagame’s economic record outweighed other concerns:

“I’m a believer in and a supporter of Paul Kagame. I don’t ignore all those criticisms, having said that. But I do think you’ve got to recognise that Rwanda is an immensely special case because of the genocide. Secondly, you can’t argue with the fact that Rwanda has gone on a remarkable path of development. Every time I visit Kigali and the surrounding areas you can just see the changes being made in the country.”

But a sound economic policy hardly justifies the years of abuses in Congo.

Rwanda has legitimate concerns about who and what is across its border. The remnants of the Hutu extremist forces are still there, twisting a new generation with a genocidal ideology dressed up as a liberation struggle. The Congolese government has not proved able, or particularly willing, to assert its authority over the region. But Kagame, for all his denials about intervention in Congo, is contributing to that instability and the continued suffering of large numbers of Congolese, while jeopardising his own country’s future.

Tellingly, this week, a US intelligence portrait of how the world may look in 2030 says that Rwanda is at high risk of becoming a failed state by then. Even Britain – the most stalwart of allies to Kagame from the days when Blair’s international development secretary, Clare Short, was a cheerleader for the Rwandan president – has decided to take a step back by withholding aid.

This week, a coalition of campaign groups and thinktanks have written to Barack Obama accusing him of a failed policy over Rwanda and calling on the president to withhold non-humanitarian aid and impose sanctions against Kagame’s defence minister and other Rwandan officials with ties to Congo rebels. The letter is signed by 15 organisations, including George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Global Witness, Freedom House and the Africa Faith and Justice Network. Human Rights Watch has made a similar call following its own detailed investigation of crimes against humanity committed by Rwandan-allied forces in Congo.

The Obama administration should heed the call. Kagame’s legitimacy comes less from highly-manipulated elections than from the recognition he gets at home and abroad as the man who stopped the genocide. Washington should now tell him that no longer gives him a free hand in Congo.

Source: The Guardian

UK stops £21m aid payment to Rwanda

30 Nov

30 November 2012

The UK has suspended aid to Rwanda, amid concerns about the country’s role in the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has drawn international condemnation

Violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has drawn international condemnation

Ministers said the UK would not now release a payment worth £21m.

An aid payment of £16m was paid to Rwanda in September despite question marks over its alleged support for the M23 militia in DR Congo.

The government also said it would give a further £18m for immediate humanitarian needs in the DR Congo.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the money, which was due to be handed over next month, would not be released because President Paul Kagame’s regime had breached agreements.

‘Credible and compelling’

It follows a controversial decision by Ms Greening’s predecessor, Andrew Mitchell, to authorise payment of £16m to the country on his last day in the job in September.

Mr Mitchell, who had previously frozen aid to the country, cited progress at international talks as the reason for making the payment.

President Kagame’s regime has been praised for improving the economic and social conditions in the east African country, in which it is estimated more than 800,000 people were killed in ethnic violence during 1994.

But Mr Kagame, in power since 2000, has come under fierce criticism recently for allegedly funding the M23 rebel group in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A United Nations document says Rwanda’s defence minister is effectively commanding the rebellion.

The violence has drawn international condemnation and the US and some European countries have withheld aid from the Kagame regime.

The BBC has uncovered evidence Rwandan support for the rebels may be more widespread than previously believed.

Ms Greening said: “The government has already set out its concerns over credible and compelling reports of Rwandan involvement with M23 in DRC.

“This evidence constitutes a breach of the partnership principles set out in the memorandum of Understanding, and as a result I have decided not to release the next payment of budget support to Rwanda.

“We are committed to finding lasting solutions to the conflict in this region and will work with the governments of Rwanda and DRC to secure a peaceful resolution to the situation in eastern DRC.”

Source: BBC

UK withholds aid to Rwanda in light of Congo DRC allegations

30 Nov

Friday 30 November 2012

Justine Greening stops release of £21m in budget support to Kigali after Democratic Republic of Congo conflict escalates

The UK is withholding aid to Rwanda in light of accusations of Rwandan support for M23 rebels in Congo DRC. Photograph: Jerome Delay/AP

The UK is withholding aid to Rwanda in light of accusations of Rwandan support for M23 rebels in Congo DRC. Photograph: Jerome Delay/AP

The British government will withhold aid to Rwanda following allegations that the country has been financing rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In a defining moment for UK aid policy to Rwanda, the international development secretary, Justine Greening, announced on Friday that £21m of budget support – money that goes directly to the Kigali government – due to be handed over next month will not now be released.

In July, Britain withheld £16m in aid after an interim UN report alleged Rwanda’s involvement in neighbouring DRC, but the money wascontroversially restored by Greening’s predecessor Andrew Mitchell in September on his last day at DfID.

Greening’s decision is perhaps no surprise. Last week, she and the foreign secretary, William Hague, said a subsequent report by the UN expert group (pdf) into the fighting in the DRC provided “credible and compelling” evidence of Rwandan support for the M23 rebels who are fighting government troops. The violence has led to the displacement of almost half a million people in eastern Congo, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis.

Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, denies the allegations.

The EU, US, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have already suspended aid to Rwanda.

Greening said on Friday that the evidence DfID had gathered “constitutes a breach of the partnership principles set out in the memorandum of understanding [between Britain and Rwanda], and as a result I have decided not to release the next payment of budget support to Rwanda”.

She added: “We are committed to finding lasting solutions to the conflict in this region and will work with the governments of Rwanda and DRC to secure a peaceful resolution to the situation in eastern DRC.”

The UK international development select committee backed Greening’s decision, but in a report published on Friday it said DfID should consider the alternative channels to deliver its aid and the wider implications for its programmes if unrest in the region continues. The committee also questioned how Mitchell could have concluded in September that Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels had ended.

Britain is Rwanda’s largest bilateral donor, and planned to increase its aid from around £75m in 2012-13 to £90m by 2015. The UK has praised the east African state for making progress on poverty alleviation and meeting the millennium development goals.

Human Rights Watch’s UK director, David Mepham, said withholding aid to Rwanda sent an “unequivocal message” to Kigali to stop supporting the “abusive M23 rebels in eastern Congo”. A HRW report in September said the Rwandan army had deployed troops in eastern Congo to support M23’s military operations.

Mepham added: “The UK is also rightly calling on Rwanda to respect basic human rights … For years, these principles have been breached by Rwanda without triggering any response from the UK government. We hope today’s statement marks the beginning of a new era in which the UK government will uphold its principles on human rights and require its development partners to do the same.”

The head of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, this month urged donors to unfreeze aid to Rwanda to avoid causing long-term damage in the country. East African Business Week reported Kaberuka saying the consequences of withholding aid could be costly and take a long time to repair.

DfID will provide a further £18m of support for immediate humanitarian needs in DRC, it announced on Friday. Aid agencies have warned that thousands of people are seeking shelter in camps for internally displaced persons that are already beyond capacity, raising concerns of a cholera outbreak.

The DRC country director of Mercy Corps, Mark Dwyer, said: “Thousands of displaced people are in and around Goma now, searching for a safe place for their families. Many have moved from one camp to another and back again across the last week, fleeing the fighting.

“Preventing cholera is our absolute No 1 priority. In some areas right now there are over 200 people for every one latrine, and 700 people sharing a single hand-washing station. The combination of poor sanitation like this and a shortage of clean water makes water-borne disease a very real threat. Our engineers and staff are working around the clock to help bring water to more than 400,000 people here who need it, as well as building many more latrines and washing facilities, and training those living in camps on the importance of basic sanitation practices like hand-washing.”

Source: The Guardian

UK cannot ‘ignore evidence’ of Rwandan involvement with Congolese militia

23 Nov

23 November 2012

David Cameron has said the UK “cannot ignore the evidence” of Rwanda’s involvement with militia who have taken control of parts of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

A UN report published on Thursday accused Rwanda of backing the militia group

The prime minister has urged Rwandan president Paul Kagame to show he has “no links” to the M23 group of rebels.

A UN report published on Thursday accused Rwanda of backing the group.

The UK has said it will consider its “compelling” findings before deciding whether to give more aid to Rwanda.

The M23 have rejected calls to withdraw from Goma, the main city in eastern DRC, which they seized control of a week ago.

In separate phone calls to Mr Kagame and DRC leader Joseph Kabila, Mr Cameron urged them to ensure a communique by regional leaders condemning the M23 and urging them to withdraw from Goma was “translated into action”.

No 10 said Mr Cameron – who is in Brussels for a EU summit – made clear to Mr Kagame that “the international community could not ignore evidence of Rwandan involvement with the M23” and Rwanda’s leader must “show the government of Rwanda had no links to the M23”.

‘Studying implications’

The UK is facing calls to suspend its aid programme to Rwanda until its leaders disassociate themselves from the M23 and demonstrate that they are not offering the rebels any practical support.

The former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell controversially approved a £16m tranche of financial aid for Rwanda on his last day in the job in September – at a time when several other EU nations had suspended their programmes.

His successor, Justine Greening, has said she will think “very carefully” before sanctioning any further financial support to Rwanda – starting with a decision next month on a further £11m.

Reacting to the UN’s report, Ms Greening and Foreign Secretary William Hague said all external support for the M23 was “unacceptable”.

“We judge the overall body of evidence of Rwandan involvement with M23 in the DRC to be credible and compelling,” they said in a joint statement.

“We will be studying the implications of this report in full, but these allegations will necessarily be a key factor in future aid decisions to the government of Rwanda.”

Source: BBC

Link

UN Group of Experts report on the Democratic Republic of Congo

22 Nov

22 November 2012

Foreign Secretary William Hague and Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening: “We judge the overall body of evidence of Rwandan involvement with M23 in the DRC to be credible and compelling.”

Read more here

UK ‘mistaken’ over decision to continue aid to Rwanda

19 Nov

19 November 2012

The UK’s decision to continue aid to Rwanda has proved a “profound error”, Labour has said, amid concerns about the country’s role in the conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Militia groups allegedly backed by Rwanda are stepping up attacks in the eastern part of the country.

Opposition spokesman Ivan Lewis said the escalation showed the UK had sent the “wrong message” in continuing aid.

Minister Justine Greening accused Labour of “politicising” the issue.

In a statement to MPs, the international development secretary said the developments in eastern DR Congo were “deeply concerning” and said the UK was playing a full diplomatic role in trying to bring the violence to an end.

She said she would take the situation into account when she decides on whether to allocate a further tranche of financial aid to Rwanda next month in what she said would be a “measured and thoughtful” process.

Her predecessor Andrew Mitchell approved £16m in aid to Rwanda in September despite question marks over its alleged support for the M23 militia in DR Congo.

And amid reports the militia have advanced to within a few kilometres of the provincial capital, Goma, MPs sought assurances that UK financial aid was not going to support their operations.

‘Embarrassed’

Mr Lewis said the UN had been “damning” in its criticism of the links between Rwanda and the militia and the UK’s support for Rwanda had undermined the international community’s effort to take unified action to address the crisis.

“Does (Ms Greening) not feel in the slightest bit embarrassed that a militia is undermining the civilian population in eastern DRC as we meet here today?” he said.

“With the rest of the international community suspending budget support to Rwanda because they are actively supporting that activity, she is a member of a government that has departed from that international coalition and sent entirely the wrong message to the president of Rwanda.”

He urged ministers to stop “dithering” and make it clear no more financial aid would be given unless Rwanda condemned the actions of the militia and demonstrated they were not giving it any support.

Both the coalition government and its Labour predecessor have been close to Rwanda, Tony Blair having welcomed its president Paul Kagame to Downing Street in 2006 and David Cameron travelling to the country in 2007 to learn about development issues.

‘Making a difference’

Ms Greening told MPs that UK aid was lower now than it had been under the previous Labour government and the opposition had no right to “criticise us in relation to tracking results of aid and being clear about whether it is being spent appropriately or not”.

She added: “I will be reviewing all the evidence, including of course the latest evidence about renewing fighting in eastern DRC and how that situation develops before making any further decision about the next dispersment of general budget support.”

The UK, she added, had to balance getting value for money out of foreign aid with “making a difference” in terms of helping save lives and lifting people out of poverty.

“Much of the work that has been done alongside the Rwandan government has been successful,” she said.

Ms Greening also confirmed she had suspended £11m in financial aid to Uganda after indications that some of it may have been misused, adding that this was “distinct” from the situation in Rwanda.

Source: BBC