Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo has labelled rumours circulating about Rwanda’s involvement in the eastern DRC as “categorically false and dangerous.” She was responding to reports on the BBC of a UN report alleging that solders had been recruited and trained in Rwanda and then transferred to the eastern DRC to take part in the conflict between the Congolese government and rebel forces.
“Rwanda has maintained from the outset that the current instability in the eastern DRC is a matter for the Congolese government and military,” Mushikiwabo said. “Rwanda’s national interest is served by containing conflict and building deeper bonds of peace with our neighbours. The international community continues to neglect real issues of stability by limiting itself to symptoms instead of the root cause of suffering in our region.”
She also urged the UN force in the DRC, MONUSCO, to return to its original mandate instead of spreading rumours and generating reports. ”This billion-dollar-a-year operation makes up one quarter of the UN’s entire peacekeeping budget, and yet it has been a failure from day one,” the Minister remarked. “Instead of pursuing its mandate to eradicate the FDLR menace and help stabilise the region, MONUSCO has become a destabilising influence, primarily concerned with keeping hold of its bloated budgets and justifying its ongoing existence. Rwanda has received several refugees who are severely wounded and traumatised as a result of the UN’s failure to protect civilians in eastern DRC.”
Rwanda has maintained peaceful and constructive relations with the government of the DRC since 2009, since which time both countries have enjoyed a significant “peace dividend”, according to Mushikiwabo. “Peace in the region enables us to attract investment, slash the poverty rate, and extend the horizons of opportunity for our citizens. That’s why claims that Rwanda would undermine good relations with our neighbours are not only wrong, but wrong-headed – it would be in clear violation of our own national interest. We will continue to work closely with the DRC government to bring back peace and security that the people of our region have been denied for far too long.”
Since the outbreak of fighting, the government’s primary focus has been to provide safe refuge for the 9,239 Congolese citizens who have entered its borders in recent weeks, Mushikiwabo pointed out. Through collaboration with UNHCR, the World Food Programme and the WHO, the refugee situation remains “challenging but manageable,” according to the Minister.