UN sanctions six DRC rebel heads as fighting in east escalates

Wednesday February 21 2024

Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood speaks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at UN headquarters in New York, US on January 22, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday sanctioned six people from five armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as violent clashes escalate in the region between the Congolese army and M23 rebels, allegedly backed by Rwanda, a claim Kigali denies.

The fighting, in a war that has lasted decades, has increased the risk of an all-out conflict between Congo and Rwanda that could suck in neighbours and regional forces including South Africa, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.

"The United States firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC and lasting peace for all Congolese people. Rwanda and the DRC must walk back from the brink of war," Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told a meeting of the 15-member Security Council on Tuesday.

Read: France urges Rwanda to stop M23 rebels support

The Security Council's DRC sanctions committee imposed an arms embargo, travel ban and asset freeze on two leaders with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one leader from the Twirwaneho armed group and one from the National People's Coalition for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC) rebels.

Also added to the UN list were the military spokesperson for the mainly Tutsi M23 rebels and a leader with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), founded by Hutus who fled Rwanda after taking part in the 1994 genocide of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.


"These individuals are responsible for numerous abuses," Wood said of the six sanctioned individuals.

A UN peacekeeping force, known as Monusco, has been deployed in Congo for more than 13 years after taking over from an earlier UN operation in 2010 to help quell insecurity in the east of the country.

Read: Bemba: Monusco, DRC army fighting M23 rebels

The UN Security Council approved the end of the mission in December following a request by Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi in September to fast-track the withdrawal of the peacekeepers.