By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The United Nations and the US have urged all parties involved in growing tension between Kinshasa and Kigali to “immediately cease all forms of violence” in border regions between Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo.
There was a renewed conflict between the DRC and Rwanda last month amid violent clashes along the border between the two African countries, which have accused each other of supporting armed groups as well as launching cross-border attacks.
“We are concerned over the deteriorating security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement on Saturday.
Dujarric decried an “increase of attacks against civilians” by Congolese rebels and “the ongoing presence of other foreign armed groups,” notably the anti-Kigali group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), “which continue to pose a threat to regional stability”.
“We reaffirm our strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the DRC and strongly condemn the use of proxies,” he said.
Dujarric said the UN “fully supports” the efforts of the African Union, which recently tabbed Angola President Joao Lourenco to mediate the crisis between Kinshasa and Kigali.
In its part, the US Department of State said on Twitter that it was “alarmed by reports of cross-border attacks between the DRC and Rwanda resulting in loss of life”.
“We look for responsible, constructive leadership” from the presidents of the DRC and Rwanda, the US added.
Relations between the two countries have been tense since the arrival in the eastern DRC of thousands of Rwandan Hutus – the ethnic group accused of having massacred hundreds of thousands of members of the Tutsi minority during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
A thaw in the relationship between the neighbours followed the 2019 arrival of Felix Tshisekedi as DRC President, but tensions have sharpened again since last month.