The UN will reinforce its presence in North Kivu, Congo, to help stop a destructive rebel movement in its tracks. It is the latest development in a conflict with tragic historical roots.
The United Nations announced on Wednesday that it is to send more peacekeeping troops to Congo's North Kivu province to put a stop to rebel attacks plaguing the troubled area.
Roger Meece, the special representative of the UN secretary general and head of the UN mission to the Congo, also said on Wednesday that the UN as working with Congolese troops to defend major urban centers, including Goma, where the Congolese military have struggled to put down a rebellion being coordinated by a renegade group of soldiers called M23. The M23 are a collection of Tutsi rebels who were initially set up to fight against a Hutu rebellion in the Congo.
The UN breakthrough came on the same day that the Congolese army retook the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja, which the rebels took hold of over the weekend.
Meece also criticized support that Rwanda is alleged to have given to the M23 rebel movement in the region.
"There is a lot of information that implicates support by Rwanda in the M23 rebel movement. It's an unacceptable situation and it must stop immediately,” he said.
Congolese officials in North Kivu had also condemned Kigali on Tuesday for “invading” the region.
Roots in the Rwandan genocide
The conflict in North Kivu is ultimately traceable back to seeds of hate sown in Rwandan genocide
The longstanding conflict in eastern Congo traces back to the spillover effects of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when radical members of the Hutu ethnic group tried to systematically exterminate ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Eight hundred thousand opposing Tutsis and Hutus fled across the border into Congo, where fighting between the two sides has continued to this day.
Since the M23 was first created in April, more than 200,000 people in North Kivu have been compelled to flee their homes, 20,000 of them as far as across the borders into Rwanda and Uganda.
UN troops in Congo currently number 17,000, and there has been a UN peacekeeping presence in the country for more than 10 years.
sej/slk (AP, Reuters)