Thank you Madame President. I thank SRSG Kobler and SESG Robinson for taking the time to brief us today on the reports of the Secretary-General and ahead of MONUSCO’s mandate renewal.
As the Secretary General report highlights, despite the positive developments of late last year, it is clear that the momentum has slowed, with limited progress on both the political and the military fronts. We are looking at a volatile security situation in not only the East but throughout the country. “Negative forces” are still at rampage; killing and maiming, raping young girls and women, recruiting children and causing thousands of displacements of civilians. The seriousness and scale of killings and violations that continue in Katanga and in areas formerly occupied by M23 in North Kivu are deeply troubling. A major reason for this is the prevalent culture of impunity that continues throughout the country. All perpetrators, whether from the FARDC, which has committed 18 % of crimes reported in 2013, or any other armed group, must be brought to justice and held accountable for their crimes.
There is no doubt, no doubt, that the next few months will be critical and we need to take a serious look at how Resolution 2098 is being implemented especially in the neutralization of negative armed groups; in the consolidation of the peace process, and in the protection of civilians in liberated areas. We welcome the reports presented by briefers on some members of some armed groups that have peacefully surrendered and indeed we applaud FARDC supported by MONUSCO for attacking and destroying a number of ADF camps. The resumption of the Minova trial is another positive development and we look forward to a conclusive prosecution that can set a precedent for future cases. The recently promulgated Amnesty law as per Nairobi agreement is also positive step in national reconciliation but one that will require measurable actions. We urge MONUSCO and international community to closely monitor its implementation.
However, these positive developments should not obscure the fact that one of the oldest armed groups remains at large. As always for the past 20 years, the problem that we have is the posture of the DRC government and the UN peacekeepers “currently MONUSCO” towards the threat posed by FDLR genocidal forces responsible for the genocide against the Tutsi. Throughout the last quarter of 2013 we were told that FDLR are next on the list of negative forces to be eliminated; what happens from when the promise is made to the next briefing, no one knows, no accountability… At our last meeting on MONUSCO, the military operation plan presented to the Security Council was that FARDC was to go after ADF, they did it. Following that, we were told that MONUSCO was to put their resources against FDLR. Nothing happened! Only a week or two before this briefing, do we hear in the news that there was a military operation against FDLR. This threat of FDLR persists despite the mandate of MONUSCO, which was given extra offensive capabilities after the deployment of the Intervention Brigade and the lack of MONUSCO to commit to fighting this force remains evident.
Once again, It is high time we see a change of attitude of the DRC Government towards the FDLR; Rwanda has for several years expressed legitimate concerns with the lack of political will of the Government of DRC to tackle the threat of FDLR. Various UNSC reports have detailed evidence of all kinds of support given to FDLR by DRC and Rwanda has even provided more.
The continuous excuses given by MONUSCO again and again when it comes to conducting military operations against FDLR, is kind of disturbing. When it is not excuses of lack of intelligence, (and which Rwanda did share with MONUSCO), it is engaged in propaganda operations to hoodwink the UNSC about military operations with FARDC against FDLR. On 09 Mar 14, MONUSCO/FIB jointly with FARDC raided FDLR illegal roadblock along Karengera – Tongo road. Reliable information reveals that Col Ramadhan, acting FARDC commander of the 8th Military Region, leaked information of the impending FIB attack on FDLR, hence undermining this operation.
It is not only Rwanda expressing frustration over inaction against negative forces; the countries of the region, under ICGLR have expressed frustration by lack of political will by MONUSCO to address the threats of armed groups in the Great Lakes region. Eastern DRC has been host to domestic and foreign armed groups particularly M23, FDLR and ADF-NALU. As a result, ICGLR came up with detailed mechanisms to address the situation, including political and military measures. Some of these mechanisms have been taken over by UN, including Intervention Brigade under MONUSCO and yet the major threat posed by FDLR has not been tackled. This was again subject of ICGLR Heads of State Summit in Luanda, Angola on 15th January 2014, where the Chiefs of Defence Staff of Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa were again tasked to assess the situation and come up with new mechanisms of eradicating FDLR.
On the FDLR Current Situation; Let me briefly share with you some updates on the FDLR activities. The FDLR strength is estimated to 3,640 with infantry integral weapons. This strength is likely to increase due to ongoing recruitment and training. Currently, FDLR is engaged in the following activities:
Enhancing collaboration with FARDC especially at operation level. This has enabled FDLR to refit, re-arm, share intelligence, have freedom of action and free passage for infiltration and terror attacks in Rwanda. Since July 2013 to date, 42 FDLR infiltrators/terror elements have been arrested and undergoing prosecution in Rwandan courts;
Mobilization, recruitment, training and establishment of terror networks in Rwanda. These activities are facilitated by provision of safe passage and logistics by FARDC;
The recent claim by MONUSCO that FDLR is located in populated areas is a sheer lie; instead the outfit has most of its forward units in Virunga National Park in North Kivu Province. It also maintains its dispositions in unpopulated areas of Mwenga and Uvira Territories in South Kivu; and
On Illegal mining and taxation in eastern DRC to sustain the war effort.
I would like to discuss a different issue of M23 Ex-Combatants; while the SG report suggests that consultations on the unresolved issue of these ex- combatants in Rwanda are ongoing; we remind this Council that these combatants have been in Rwanda since March 2013. It is almost a year. The Government of Rwanda has done everything required by international law to contain this group, including relocating them to Ngoma District in Eastern Province approximately 250 Km from the DRC border, but despite our repeated calls for international community to take over responsibility, not much has been done. There were some contacts that were initiated in December but its really not that much.
On the report of the PSC Framework, I will not dwell much on that since the implementation of the PSCA will be discussed on 27th of this month in Nairobi.
To conclude, as we have said previously, next month marks the 20th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi and there could be no greater symbol of justice for its victims than the defeat and eradication of FDLR, a virulent genodical force that has been allowed to terrorize the region for the past two decades.
I thank you Madame President