Tag Archives: United Nations

Rwanda complains to U.N. about new Congo brigade

15 Jul

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS | Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:02am EDT

(Reuters) – Rwanda is accusing the United Nations’ new intervention brigade in eastern Congo of discussing collaboration with Hutu rebels linked to the Rwandan genocide of 1994, thereby jeopardizing regional peace efforts.

In a letter to U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo in her role as this month’s president of the U.N. Security Council that was released on Monday, Rwandan U.N. Ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana said MONUSCO intervention brigade commanders have met with FDLR rebels, the remnants of Hutu killers who carried out the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.

U.N. peacekeeping troops have been in mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo for more than a decade. The world body’s MONUSCO force there is currently 17,000 strong, the largest force of U.N. peacekeeping troops in the world.

The complex conflict has dragged on, killing millions of people through violence, famine and disease since the 1990s. That has led the United Nations to create a new “intervention brigade” – part of the MONUSCO force but assigned the task of not merely peacekeeping but taking active steps to neutralize rebel groups.

The force, comprised of troops from South Africa and Tanzania as well as soldiers from Malawi due in Congo later this month or in August, has already begun patrolling and is approaching full strength.

“Rwanda has credible, reliable and detailed information that various forms of tactical and strategic collaboration with the FDLR were discussed during those meetings,” Gasana said in the letter.

“Their actions, implicating senior United Nations commanders picking sides among the very armed groups whose military activities they are meant to deter, are of serious concern,” he wrote.

Gasana also supported an allegation contained in the latest report by the U.N. Group of Experts that units of the Congolese army (FARDC) have been cooperating with the FDLR.

‘GRATUITOUS ACCUSATIONS’

The Congolese government disputed Gasana’s claims.

“These are allegations which are not backed up by any proof,” Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende told a news conference in Kinshasa. “Rwanda is making gratuitous accusations to justify the attacks they are carrying out at the moment.”

Mende said Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebels who clashed with the Congolese army at Mutaho on Sunday. Fighting continued on Monday.

Gasana said FARDC-FDLR collaboration often occurs with the knowledge – or even support – of MONUSCO intervention brigade contingents.

“We have reliable information that indicates several instances of FDLR units or commanders being integrated in FARDC commando units near the border with Rwanda,” the Rwandan envoy said. “In some instances, certain Force Intervention Brigade commanders are aware and supportive of such instances.”

The Group of Experts, which monitors compliance with U.N. sanctions for Congo, also said in its interim report that M23 rebels in Congo continue to recruit fighters in neighboring Rwanda with the aid of sympathetic Rwandan military officers. Rwanda has denied the group’s allegations, accusing it of bias.

Gasana said that “there are increased patterns of large quantities of weapons and ammunition being delivered to FDLR by FARDC officers, which have taken place with the knowledge and support of (MONUSCO) Force Intervention Brigade commanders.”

“The above-mentioned activities and patterns are developments that my government takes seriously, as they constitute a serious threat to the security of my country but also put into question the credibility of MONUSCO and its peacekeeping operations,” he said.

Gasana added that “any hidden agenda driven by political and/or economic interests” would undermine the push for peace in the region.

The U.N. peacekeeping department declined to comment.

Separately, the head of U.N. peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, told Reuters on Sunday in an interview in Paris that MONUSCO will soon have unarmed surveillance drones to monitor developments on the ground in eastern Congo.

(Additional reporting by Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya in Kinshasa; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: Reuters Africa

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CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE FOR HABYALIMANA AND NTARYAMIRA

24 Apr

CAMPAIGN FOR JUSTICE FOR HABYALIMANA AND NTARYAMIRA

Source: rwandansrights.org

Justice for Habyalimana & Ntaryamira Campaign

Rwanda seeks to block talk of war crimes court at UN

15 Apr

14.04.2013

By Tim Witcher (AFP)

UN Security Council members vote on sanctions against North Korea at the UN headquarters in New York, March 7, 2013 (AFP/File, Emmanuel Dunand)

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations has been hit by a second war crimes court dispute in a week with Rwanda trying to stop the UN Security Council praising the International Criminal Court.

The storm comes only days after the United States boycotted a UN General Assembly debate where Serbia’s president launched a fierce attack on international war crimes courts.

Rwanda is organizing a Security Council meeting Monday on conflict prevention in Africa when traditionally the 15-member body would release a statement.

The seven ICC members on the council — Argentina, Australia, Britain, France, Guatemala, Luxembourg and South Korea — insist on acknowledging the work of the court in ending impunity for war crimes, diplomats said.

Rwanda said it would not accept a statement which mentions the ICC which it has strongly criticized, according to diplomats.

Rwanda is the council president for April and its Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo will chair the meeting with UN leader Ban Ki-moon also attending. It is expected to highlight its own experiences in bringing stability since the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 people died.

ICC members on the council wanted a statement which stresses “the important role of the International Criminal Court and reiterates the importance of cooperation with the court,” said a copy obtained by AFP.

“Rwanda said it would rather have no statement at all than one which mentions the ICC,” said a UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is a strange position for a country which is organizing the meeting.”

“There is a clear divide in the council, seven-seven, on the ICC issue,” Rwanda’s deputy UN ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe told AFP.

He said a compromise could be found before Monday’s meeting. But western diplomats said this was unlikely.

“Given their own tragic circumstances, this is just shameful behaviour by Rwanda,” said Richard Dicker, justice specialist for Human Rights Watch.

The rights group has has been strongly criticized by the Rwandan government for its reporting on the nation. Rwanda has also slammed the ICC and the international tribunal set up to handle its genocide cases.

About half of African nations are ICC signatories but Rwanda is among a hard core who complain about its tactics. “The ICC is a political court and we have never believed in its jurisdiction,” Rwanda’s foreign minister said last month.

Rwanda’s Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama took up the attacks against international tribunals at a UN General Assembly meeting on internationl justice on Wednesday.

Karugarama said his country felt “betrayed” by the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda that handled major cases after the 1994 genocide.

The United States boycotted the General Assembly meeting which was marked by a fierce attack on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia by Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolic. He said there was “a systematic atmosphere of lynch-mobbing of everything that is Serbian.”

The comments were strongly criticized by the European Union. And UN leader Ban strongly defended the growing role of international justice at the meeting.

The international tribunals have “ushered in an age of accountability,” Ban said.

Tensions over international justice dispute could worsen. The 20th anniversary of the Security Council’s call for the creation of the Yugoslavia tribunal is in May and some countries want a special anniversary meeting.

Source: AFP

UN report: Rwanda commanding Congo rebel force

21 Nov

November 21, 2012

By PETER JAMES SPIELMANN, Associated Press

A soldier from the M23 rebel group looks on as thousands of Congolese people listen during an M23 rally, in Goma, eastern Congo, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012. Thousands of Congolese soldiers and policemen defected to the M23 rebels Wednesday, as rebel leaders vowed to take control of all Congo, including the capital Kinshasa. The rebels organized a rally at Goma’s Stadium of Volcanoes after seizing control of the strategic city in eastern Congo Tuesday. (AP Photo/Marc Hofer)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A United Nations report released Wednesday says the Rwandan military is commanding and supporting the rebel force that overtook a major city in eastern Congo this week.

The highly anticipated report says, “The government of Rwanda continues to violate the arms embargo by providing direct military support to the M23 rebels, facilitating recruitment, encouraging and facilitating desertions from the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and providing arms, ammunition, intelligence and political advice.”

The report also says, “The de facto chain of command of M23 includes Gen. Bosco Ntaganda and culminates with the Minister of Defence of Rwanda, Gen. James Kabarebe.”

The report also accuses Uganda of involvement. Uganda has said it would pull its troops out of U.N. peacekeeping operations if it was named in the report.

Both Rwanda and Uganda have denied supporting the M23 rebel movement, which took the city of Goma on Tuesday.

The U.N. report says, “Senior officials of the Government of Uganda have also provided support to M23 in the form of direct troop reinforcements in Congolese territory, weapons deliveries, technical assistance, joint planning, political advice and facilitation of external relations.”

It adds, “Units of the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces and the Rwandan Defence Forces jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July 2012 to take over the major towns of Rutshuru territory and the Congolese armed forces base of Rumangabo.

The report adds, “Both Governments have also cooperated to support the creation and expansion of the political branch of M23 and have consistently advocated on behalf of the rebels. M23 and its allies include six sanctioned individuals, some of whom reside in or regularly travel to Rwanda and Uganda.”

Earlier Wednesday, the U.N.’s special representative for Congo said the 19,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force there is being stretched thin by multiple rebel militias in the eastern part of the country.

Roger Meece made the assessment in a live videoconference linkup to the Security Council from Kinshasa.

The council is assessing the performance of the MONUSCO peacekeeping force after 1,500 of its troops stood by Tuesday and let M23 rebels take Goma without resistance.

U.N. helicopters over the weekend fired hundreds of rockets at the rebels in a bid to slow their advance on the city of 1 million.

But U.N. officials say the U.N. force commander in Goma ordered the peacekeepers not to shoot Tuesday in order to avoid provoking a major firefight in the city after Congolese troops retreated.

Meece said the M23 rebels were “well provisioned,” uniformed and supplied with weapons, including night-vision goggles, that clearly came from some outside party.

He did not name Rwanda or Uganda.

Source: The Associated Press

Congo PM says U.N. must impose sanctions on Rwandan officials

16 Nov

Fri Nov 16, 2012

(Reuters) – The prime minister of Democratic Republic of Congo urged the United Nations on Friday to impose sanctions on senior Rwandan officials linked to a bloody insurgency in eastern Congo, or risk losing its credibility.

The conflict has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their home

Augustin Matata Ponyo said the U.N. Security Council must take firm action after a confidential report by a U.N. panel of experts accused Rwandan officials, including Defence Minister James Kabarebe, of arming and supporting the M23 rebel group.

In some of the worst fighting in months, the Congolese army repulsed a second day of attacks by M23 fighters on Friday 30 km (20 miles) north of Goma, the capital of the mineral-rich North Kivu province, scarred by nearly two decades of bloodshed.

Matata Ponyo said the army was determined to resist the rebel onslaught, which he said was aimed at capturing Goma and had already caused large numbers of civilians to flee.

“The involvement of Rwandan officials with these rebels is an open secret,” Matata Ponyo said in an interview during a visit to Paris.

“If United Nations singles out Rwanda as a subversive influence in east Congo but it makes no effort to sanction those named in its own report, then it will have a problem of credibility.”

U.N. diplomats had earlier told Reuters that the expert panel had urged the U.N. Security Council’s Congo sanctions committee at a closed door meeting on Friday to impose sanctions on Kabarebe and other Rwandan officials.

Kigali denies backing Congo’s rebels but some Security Council diplomats say its denials are not credible. Rwanda twice invaded its larger neighbor in the 1990s, sparking a lingering humanitarian crisis which has claimed 5.4 million lives.

The diplomats said it was unlikely the Council would agree to add Rwandans to a U.N. blacklist on Congo – subjecting them to an international travel ban and asset freeze – but even proposing such sanctions would send a strong message to Rwanda.

“ATTACK BY A FOREIGN POWER”

Ahead of a meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, Matata Ponyo said he wanted to use his visit to convince France – a permanent member of the Security Council – that Rwanda was backing the M23 rebels to gain control over eastern Congo’s vast mineral wealth.

“This is not an internal Congolese conflict. It is an attack by a foreign country,” he said. “Until the international community understands that, a solution will be slow in coming.”

Eastern Congo, ravaged by decades of on-off conflict, was once against plunged into violence at the beginning of the year when hundreds of soldiers defected and launched M23, which says it wants to overthrow President Joseph Kabila.

More than 760,000 people have fled their homes since.

The U.N. experts’ report on Rwanda’s involvement in the rebellion prompted Belgium to halt all new military aid to its former colony this month, joining a list of donors including the European Union and Washington applying pressure to Kigali.

“The publication of this report should prompt other Security Council members and European countries to take measures in the same direction,” Matata Ponyo said.

(Reporting By Daniel Flynn; Editing by Pravin Char)

Source: Reuters

Under fire over Congo rebels, Rwanda wins Security Council seat

18 Oct

UNITED NATIONS | Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:02pm BST

(Reuters) – Rwanda – along with Australia and Argentina – won a seat on the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, despite accusations by a U.N. expert panel that the Rwandan defence minister is commanding a rebellion in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda was unopposed in its bid for the African seat on the council that South Africa will vacate at the end of December, but still needed approval from two-thirds of the U.N. General Assembly members present to secure the two-year term. It won 148 votes.

Argentina also was elected to the council unopposed, winning 182 votes in the 193-nation assembly. Australia won a seat as well with 140 votes. At least one further round of voting was taking place to decide the remaining two seats up for grabs.

Cambodia, Bhutan and South Korea are competing for one Asia-Pacific seat. With Australia’s victory secured, Finland and Luxembourg are up for the other remaining seat available in the “Western European and Others” group.

A confidential U.N. report, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, cast a shadow over Rwanda’s election to the 15-member U.N. powerhouse – which has the ability to impose sanctions and authorize military interventions.

There are five veto-holding permanent members of the council – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – and 10 temporary members without vetoes. Thursday’s election was for the term from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014.

Before the vote, the Congo’s delegation told the General Assembly it objected to Rwanda joining the Security Council, accusing its neighbour of harbouring “war criminals operating in the eastern part of the DRC and who are being sought by international justice.”

The Security Council’s “Group of Experts” said that Rwanda and Uganda – despite their strong denials – continued to support M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops in the east of the country.

COUNCIL COMPLICATIONS

Rwandan U.N. diplomat Olivier Nduhungirehe said on Wednesday that Rwanda was not worried about the report’s impact on its Security Council bid.

“The members of the General Assembly know exactly what our record is and they cannot be deterred or swayed by a baseless report, which has no credibility,” Nduhungirehe said.

“We are the sixth (biggest) troop-contributing country for peacekeeping, we are a leading country in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we have a record in post-conflict reconstruction and peace building,” he said.

In addition to South Africa, four countries – Colombia, Germany, India and Portugal – are leaving the Security Council in December. Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Pakistan, Togo and Morocco will remain on the council until the end of 2013.

The last time Rwanda was on the council was in 1994-95. That coincided with a genocide in which 800,000 people were killed when Rwanda’s Hutu-led government and ethnic militias went on a 100-day killing spree, massacring Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

A senior Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity that he hoped Rwanda’s presence on the council would have a “positive effect” on the body’s handling of Congo, although he acknowledged it was possible the opposite would be the case.

He said getting unanimity among the 15 council members on Congo’s rebellion might be difficult with Rwanda in the room.

The Congolese government on Wednesday demanded targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the U.N. experts report.

According to the U.N. experts, who monitor compliance with sanctions and an arms embargo on the Congo, Rwandan Defence Minister General James Kabarebe was ultimately commanding the rebellion and both Rwanda and Uganda were providing weapons, troops and military and political aid to the insurgency.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

Reuters

Congo implores UN not to elect Rwanda to security council

18 Oct

Thursday 18 October 2012 17.09 BST

Rwanda likely to take Africa’s seat on council, despite damning UN report accusing it of backing rebels in DRC

A UN report said a close ally of the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame (pictured), was commanding rebels in the DRC. Photograph: Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Images

Rwanda‘s likely election to the UN security council has been branded an embarrassment in the wake of a UN report that the country is fuelling a violent uprising in a neighbouring country.

Rwanda is unopposed in its bid on Thursday for the non-permanent African seat on the security council – currently held by South Africa – but it still has to be approved by two-thirds of the UN general assembly members present to secure a two-year term. It is theoretically possible that Rwanda will fail to secure the necessary votes but this is seen as unlikely.

The timing of Rwanda’s ascent could hardly be more uncomfortable for the UN security council, whose own group of experts have produced a damning report of its support for the rebel M23 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Atoki Ileka, Congo’s special envoy to the UN, said: “It is a dreadful day and a very sad day for Africa because the security council is the UN body in charge of peace and security, and this is a country not committed to peace and security.

“It’s very embarrassing for the UN. Its members should vote against Rwanda. Rwanda is not going to have the vote of the DRC.”

Ileka remained hopeful, however, that the security council would “rubber stamp” the group of experts’ final report before Rwanda takes its seat. The report is due to be presented next month whereas Rwanda would not become a member until 1 January 2013.

From this date onward, however, there is the prospect of division and deadlock. The Congolese government is demanding that the security council impose targeted sanctions against Rwandan and Ugandan officials named in the UN experts’ report.

An unnamed western diplomat told Reuters that getting unanimity among the 15 council members on Congo’s rebellion would be difficult with Rwanda in the room.

Carina Tertsakian, senior researcher on Rwanda for Human Rights Watch, said: “It presents a clear conflict of interest. Rwanda could become a member of the UN security council yet it has for several years undermined initiatives of the security council, for example the arms embargo on Congo.

“Our fear is that having a seat on the security council will enable Rwanda to protect its own officials from sanctions. For the victims – Congolese or Rwandan – of violent abuses by M23, this is a real affront.”

An extract of the UN report leaked to Reuters this week named the Rwandan defence minister general, James Kabarebe, a close ally of President Paul Kagame, as effectively commanding the rebellion. It also accused both Rwanda and Uganda of providing weapons, troops and military and political aid to the M23 rebels in their six-month fight against Congolese government troops.

The report has also intensified pressure on Britain to review its decision to restore £16m of aid to Kagame’s government.

Rwanda accused the head of the group of experts of “pursuing a political agenda”. Uganda called the allegations “rubbish, rubbish, rubbish”.

Five security council seats are to be filled in elections on Thursday. There are five veto-holding permanent members of the council – the US, Britain, France, Russia and China – and 10 temporary members without vetoes.

Rwandan UN diplomat Olivier Nduhungirehe said his country was not worried about the report harming its security council bid. “The members of the general assembly know exactly what our record is and they cannot be deterred or swayed by a baseless report, which has no credibility,” he told Reuters.

“We are the sixth [biggest] troop-contributing country for peacekeeping, we are a leading country in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, we have a record in post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building.”

Argentina is running unopposed for the Latin American and Caribbean states’ seat, but there is a three-way competition in both the Asia-Pacific group and the “Western European and Others” group.

Rwanda was last on the council in 1994-95, a period that coincided with the genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Source: The Guardian

Exclusive: Mineral traders in Rwanda helping fund Congo rebels – U.N. panel

16 Oct

By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS | Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:58pm EDT

(Reuters) – Traders in Rwanda profiting from tin, tungsten and tantalum smuggled across the border from mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congoare helping fund a rebellion in their resource-rich neighbor, according to a U.N. expert panel report.

The confidential report, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, said while Congolese government requirements that exporters ensure minerals are conflict-free had halted nearly all trade from the country’s east, smuggling into Rwanda and Burundi had increased.

Impoverished Congo sits on large reserves of gold and the minerals used in electronics production and – according to a Chatham House study – an estimated 10 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on the mining industry.

M23 rebels commanded by warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, have been fighting government soldiers in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province since April. The U.N. report said Rwanda and Uganda were providing arms, troops and advice to M23.

“The credibility of the mineral tagging system in place in Rwanda is jeopardized by the laundering of Congolese minerals, as tags are routinely sold,” the report said of the practice to “bag and tag” products at the mine to certify their origins.

“Several traders have contributed to finance M23 rebels out of profits resulting from smuggling Congolese minerals into Rwanda,” it said, adding that Rwandan exports of tantalum and tungsten had risen in 2012 in tandem with increased smuggling out of Congo.

A recent study by nonprofit rights group the Enough Project, citing Rwandan government data, found that from 2010 to 2011 Rwanda’s mineral exports jumped 62 percent compared with a 22 percent rise in domestic mining production.

SHIFT TO GOLD

But profits by armed groups from trade in tin, tungsten and tantalum have been dented by a 2010 U.S. law requiring companies to disclose if they use minerals from the Congo. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved guidelines in August to enforce the conflict minerals law.

Companies need to conduct a due diligence check to track minerals through the supply chain to their origins to identify if any conflict minerals were used in their products.

The 44-page report by the U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts – a panel monitoring compliance with U.N. sanctions and an arms embargo for Congo – said those profiting from the conflict mineral trade had easily adapted to the drop in price for some resources by shifting their focus to gold.

It also accused criminal networks within the Congolese army (FARDC) of profiting by smuggling resources and overseeing the trafficking of ivory by armed groups.

“Armed groups, FARDC criminal networks and miners easily shift to gold mines where due diligence requirements haven’t affected the trade,” the report said. “Nearly all gold from eastern DRC is smuggled out of the country and channeled through a few major traders in Kampala and Bujumbura.”

“In the United Arab Emirates, most Congolese gold is smelted and sold to jewelers,” it said.

The U.N. report was delivered earlier this month to the council’s Congo sanctions committee. Congo has also called for an embargo on trade in minerals from Rwanda.

Rwanda has historically benefited from the exploitation of hundreds of millions of dollars of Congolese minerals. Last year Rwanda returned to Congo more than 80 tonnes of smuggled minerals that had been seized by customs officials.

(Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Paul Simao)

Source: Reuters

Rwanda military aid cut by US over DR Congo M23 rebels

10 Sep

22 July 2012 Last updated at 12:02

The M23 rebels are among those the US fears Rwanda is backing

The US has cut military aid to Rwanda following accusations it is backing rebels in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The US state department says the funding – $200,000 (£128,000) – will be reallocated to other countries.

Rwanda has rejected reports by the UN and rights groups that it is supporting the rebels, including the M23 movement, in eastern DR Congo.

As a result of the fighting, 200,000 people have fled their homes.

Eastern DR Congo has been plagued by fighting since 1994, when more than a million ethnic Hutus crossed the border into DR Congo following the Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 people – mostly Tutsis – died.

Rwanda has twice invaded its much larger neighbour, saying it was trying to take action against Hutu rebels based in DR Congo. Uganda also sent troops into DR Congo during the 1997-2003 conflict.

The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse, on the Congo-Rwanda border, says although $200,000 is a tiny sum to cut, it is hugely symbolic.

It means Washington – Rwanda’s staunchest international defender – believes the government in Kigali is destabilising the region by supplying the rebels, our correspondent explains.

A recent UN report seen by the BBC accused Rwanda of backing the rebels.

The report cited Rwandan soldiers who had defected from Congolese rebel forces. They told the UN they had been trained in Rwanda under the pretext of joining the army, before being sent over the border to fight.

The Rwandan government denied the allegations.

The Congolese rebels who took up arms in April named themselves “M23” after a failed peace agreement signed with DR Congo’s government on 23 March three years ago.

Many of them are ethnic Tutsi – like the majority of Rwanda’s leadership.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news