UN Security Council demands DR Congo militia groups disband

Thursday March 30 2023
IDP camp in Goma, eastern DR Congo

Muslims who fled attacks by the M23 rebels at an IDP camp in Goma, eastern DR Congo on March 27, 2023. PHOTO | ALEXIS HUGUET | AFP


United Nations

The UN Security Council on Wednesday "strongly" condemned violence perpetrated by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, demanding that the militias "immediately and permanently disband".

The statement of the body's presidency was adopted only weeks after a Security Council delegation visited DRC, where they met with officials in the capital Kinshasa before visiting the conflict-torn North Kivu province.

"The Security Council strongly condemns the continuing violence and abuses of human rights by all armed groups, including summary executions, sexual and gender-based violence and large-scale recruitment and use of children," the statement said.

Read: M23 cede ground to Burundi troops

The UN body also "demands that all members of armed groups immediately and permanently disband, lay down their arms... and release children from their ranks".

DRC citizens fleeing war in Goma.

Citizens fleeing from clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels in Goma. PHOTO | AUGUSTINE WAMENYA | ANADOLU AGENCY VIA AFP

M23 rebels

The Council targeted in particular the M23 rebels, whose attacks have increased in recent months in North Kivu, which borders Rwanda.

The statement also "strongly" condemned the M23's advances, saying they are "worsening security and stability in the region and further exacerbating an extreme humanitarian situation".

It demanded the "end of any further advances by the M23 and its withdrawal from all occupied areas".

Read: Violence hindering DRC aid work: UN

The Tutsi-led rebel group has seized swathes of territory and advanced close to the regional hub of Goma, prompting the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) to authorise the deployment of a military force last November.

Bushangara IDP camp in north Goma

Congolese soldiers deploy to secure members of the UN Security Council at the Bushangara IDP camp in north Goma on March 12, 2023. The UN ambassadors called for a political solution to end the conflict in eastern DRC. PHOTO | GUERCHOM NDEBO | AFP

Natural resources

Kinshasa, independent UN experts and several Western governments say the M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda eyeing the natural resources across the border, a claim denied by Kigali.

The Security Council said it "demands that all external parties immediately cease their support" to M23.

M23 soldiers leave Rumangabo camp

M23 soldiers leave Rumangabo camp after a meeting with EACRF officials on January 6, 2023. PHOTO | GUERCHOM NDEBO | AFP

Read: New dynamics in quest for DRC peace

Bintou Keita, the head of the UN mission in DRC, said at the Council meeting on Wednesday that the country's "already immense" humanitarian needs "continue to increase."

"This humanitarian crisis remains one of the most neglected in the world," she said, calling for complete funding of $2.3 billion for the UN's 2023 humanitarian plan for the DRC.