Congo Said, Rwanda Said

21 Nov

The M23 rebellion, which the Democratic Republic of Congo claims Rwanda (and Uganda) is backing, is perhaps an example of what happens when no one gives a shit about your region of the world.

The M23 rebellion has aggravated tensions between Congo and its neighbor Rwanda, which Kinshasa’s government says is orchestrating the insurgency as a means of grabbing the chaotic region’s mineral wealth. Rwanda denies the assertion.

A Reuters witness said fighters from the M23 rebel group were advancing by foot along the road to the city center where sustained lights arms fire rang out – the first clear evidence they had entered the provincial capital of North Kivu province after days of fighting along the outskirts.

“What has probably happened is that they’ve infiltrated the town in small numbers,” Lieutenant General Chander Prakash, the Goma-based force commander for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO.

He added that rebels had been pushed back by U.N. and army forces from Goma airport after a morning assault.

Streams of residents headed for the nearby border with Rwanda, saying they had been ordered to evacuate by the army. More than 50,000 people who fled fighting earlier this year have abandoned refugee camps around Goma, a city on the Rwandan border with a population of 1 million.

“With the war, we’re suffering so much, I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” a woman who gave her name only as Aisha told Reuters, clutching her three children.

But, don’t ask either government or the United Nations who is responsible for the atrocities.

When Ileka Atoki, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s former Ambassador to the UN and now France, came to the Security Council Monday evening, he stopped and answered a half dozen questions from Inner City Press.

This stand in contrast to the UN, which has refused three times to say whether DRC or the M23 mutineers broke the ceasefire on November 9. UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous wouldn’t even respond. Ladsous directed his spokesman to tell UN staff to keep the microphone away from Inner City Press.

Ileka Atoki, who has previously complained to Inner City Press about raping and sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers, answered question after question from Inner City Press in front of the Security Council. We report his answers here.

Inner City Press asked Ileka Atoki if DRC had, in fact, shelled Rwanda. He said yes, that Rwanda had fired first, and DRC responded.

The conflict has so far displaced 70,000 refugees, according to Amnesty International. Africa isn’t known as the “dark” – which refers to its opacity and the inability of Europeans to fathom its politics – continent for nothing.


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