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Belgium Calls On Rwanda To Stop Assistance To M23 Rebels

The statement followed a United Nations (UN) probe into the killing of 131 civilians in DR Congo.

Belgium has called on Rwanda to stop all assistance to the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after a UN investigation revealed responsibility for a massacre in November. 

The rebel group was said to have killed 131 civilians between Nov. 29 and 30 in Kishishe and Bambo, located in the North Kivu province of eastern DR Congo.

“The M23 must immediately stop hostilities and withdraw from zones under its control,” said a statement by the Belgian foreign ministry on Friday, Dec. 9. 

The Belgian government, which previously colonised DRC, urged Rwanda “to stop all assistance to the M23 and to continue to use all means at its disposal to persuade the rebels to re-engage in the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration into the community”.

Congolese authorities accuse Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, but the Rwandans have also blamed the DR Congo government for colluding with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). 

The Belgium government also called for a stop in all relations, “be they intentional or not, between all Congolese authorities and the FDLR”, stating that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of DR Congo and all the countries of the region must be fully respected”. 

During a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said he was “horrified” by the massacre. 

Turks said, “There is a real need to put an end to fighting which is taking place in different parts of the country, in North Kivu in particular. The civilians are always the ones who suffer.”

“We must ensure that DR Congo remains on the agenda, notably as concerns human rights. It is very important.”

The European Commission, on Thursday, Dec. 8, condemned the massacre and said it supports all regional diplomatic efforts.

“The accords signed must be put into practice without delay. The armed groups must put an end to their actions, withdraw from the zones they occupy and lay down their arms. All forms of support to these different groups must stop immediately,” a European Union spokesperson said.

Dozens of armed groups have contributed to the violence that has plagued the country. A recent regional security effort to improve the security situation is underway. 

The Institute for Security Studies says under Kenya’s leadership, the East African Community (EAC) has taken bold steps to resolve the crisis after joining the bloc in March. 

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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