The United Nations is about to confirm that the rebels fighting in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been receiving support from the governments on both sides of the border. Reuters says a draft report prepared for the Security Council verifies that Rwanda has sent men (and boys) to serve with Laurent Nkunda’s army while the DRC government in Kinshasa has been supporting the Hutu rebels in the region. Unfortunately, this isn’t news to anyone.
The UN report says that Rwanda has not only sent soldiers to serve with Nkunda, but that young boys have been recruited for the rebel force as well. In addition, units of the Rwandan army have been reported operating in the DRC.
Nkunda is a Congolese Tutsi whose forces (CNDP) seized large swaths of territory around Goma, the regional capitol of North Kivu province on the border with Rwanda. He claims to be protecting the Tutsi minority living in the DRC, but has also threatened to mount a military campaign to overthrow Joseph Kabila’s government in Kinshasa. The UN report confirms that he is operating with the solid support of the government of Rwanda.
Kabila’s government, on the other hand, has been cooperating with and provisioning the Hutu rebels in the region, many of whom are remnants of the Interahamwe who carried out the Rwandan genocide in 1994. They fled to the DRC afterward and have been operating in the eastern provinces with impunity under the acronym FDLR.
Just a few days ago, the DRC and Rwanda announced with great fanfare that they have reached an agreement for joint military operations to control the FDLR. It should be interesting to see who actually fights whom–and ends up controlling the immense mineral wealth in the region that is the real root of the conflict that has made 250,000 Congolese homeless since August.