Rwanda, DRC trade blame over border shooting

Wednesday October 25 2023

People doing cross border activities at Rwanda-DRC Rubavu border. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG


Rwanda is accusing ‘Kinshasa-backed’ rebels inside the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of injuring an innocent civilian on Monday after clashes erupted near their shared border. But DRC reacted by indicating it had reported Kigali to a joint verification team for violating Congolese territorial integrity.

On Monday, Rwanda said its citizen was injured by a stray bullet originating from the clashes among the coalition of “Kinshasa backed illegal armed groups” in Eastern DRC near its border, as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate.

“The injured man is receiving treatment at the Cyanzarwe Health Centre in Rubavu,” said the Office of Government Spokesperson issued a statement on Monday.

Read: Nine killed in east DR Congo bomb blast

“Rwanda is deeply concerned by the ongoing support and collaboration of the Government of the DRC with FDLR, other illegal armed groups, and foreign mercenaries, which is escalating provocative actions along the Rwandan border, in violation of the Luanda and Nairobi processes.”

Luanda process, mediated by Angolan President João Lourenço was supposed to help calm tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa, who accuse each other of supporting destructive rebels. The latest accusations signal broken relations that could raise tensions between them, thus hurting the Nairobi process on peace dialogue between armed groups and Kinshasa.


Maj Gen Cirimwami Peter, the interim governor of North Kivu, said the Monday clash was between two armed groups, who fought deep inside the village of Kanyarutchinya.

“The governor has ordered the immediate arrest of the troublemakers by the Defence and Security Services and their arraignment before the courts,” said Lt Col Kaiko Ndjike, army spokesman in North Kivu. 

According to the press release issued on Tuesday, the governor said Congolese authorities will target trouble making foreign armed groups he said were behind attacking armed forces and civilian areas in Goma. 

In Kinshasa, the government claimed it had drone images that show the Rwandan army has crossed the border to reinforce M23 positions in North Kivu. Christophe Lutundula, deputy Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs, stated that “the report from our security services indicates that several compatriots have been massacred and around fifty houses have been burnt down.”

Read: DRC again sounds alarm over Rwanda 'aggression'

"The military governor of North Kivu, Maj Gen Cirimwami Peter, has referred the matter to the joint verification mechanism set up as part of the Luanda process, in agreement with Rwanda and under the mediation of President Lourenço," Lutundula said.

The latest incident comes a few days after Xia Huang, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region, told the UN Security Council the security and humanitarian situation has not improved since his last briefing to the Council six months ago.  

Pointing to the risk of direct confrontation between the DRC and Rwanda, he warned: “The military strengthening in both countries, the absence of direct high-level dialogue and the persistence of hate speech are all worrying signs that we cannot ignore.”

His statement came as the Rwandan government briefed foreign diplomats in Rwanda expressing concerns about renewed fighting in DRC linked to the presence of mercenaries from Eastern Europe.

Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Birutawho chaired the meeting said more than 2000 mercenaries from Eastern Europe backed by Kinshasa present a continued and heightened security threat to Rwanda.

He added that the international community has minimized the threat of FDLR's genocidal militia.

At the same meeting, the government appealed for additional funding for refugees as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is struggling to raise sufficient resources to cater for increasing numbers. 

Last week, UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) released a statement informing all refugees in Rwanda that some of the assistance they receive will not be provided until the end of 2023.

Specifically, assistance that will not be provided includes cash assistance for non-food items, cash assistance for energy/gas for refugees living in Nyabiheke, Kigeme and Kiziba camps.

Read: UN warns of humanitarian crisis in DR Congo

Referrals to healthcare services outside of the camp are limited to emergency cases only, according to UNHCR.

The agency also plans to reduce cash food assistance effective November 2023.  

Rwanda is currently hosting 134,519 refugees with the majority - 62.20 percent from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 37.24 percent from Burundi and 0.56 percent from other nationalities.