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General News    H3'ed 6/3/12

UN: No Evidence Rwanda Supported M23 Rebels in Congo

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But civilian displacement and casualties have escalated despite MONUSCO's mandate as peacekeepers.

In a press release, The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed concern about civilians targeted in fighting between the rebels and government forces that has displaced more than 100,000 people in eastern Congo since April.

Rwanda's Minister Mushikiwabo accused MONUSCO of failure to implement its mandate and suggests that the "leaked memo" is an attempt to shift blame and justify MONUSCO's "bloated budgets."

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. 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.

More subtle backtracking by the UN is evident in an interview conducted by Radio France International with Hiroute Guebre Selassie, MONUSCO's bureau chief in North Kivu. Answering a question about the eleven supposed "defectors" from M23 Selassie was vague. Audio link is here.

The eleven military does not seem to know those who have recruited. They had thought they would be recruited to the Rwandan army and that later they found themselves transferred to Congo. They have deserted because they wanted to go home.

A source close to M23 told us in an email that the persons presenting themselves as "deserters" and "defectors" from M23 "did not come from the front lines." Instead it is more likely that individuals were bribed by Congolese commanders to go to MONUSCO and say they were defecting, the contact said.

I think that is what happened. You know when you have all the media for you something white can be black. That is what they do every time when it is the Tutsi who are fighting. Yesterday they said in a local radio that we are planning to do a mass killing of Tutsi in a village. It means that they are preparing the world so if some thing happen it will be the M23, very clever I say.

Eastern Congo Photo by G. Nienaber

This source has a valid point. Media accounts of the wars in eastern Congo have consistently blamed the CNDP/M23 for atrocities later found to be committed by others. But retractions are never issued. A good case in point is the Kiwanja massacre that was blamed on CNDP General Laurent Nkunda, but which Human Rights Watch later claimed was due to the actions of Bosco Ntaganda.

Bottom line on this story?

According to VOA, the United Nations has said categorically that it "did not produce a report saying that Rwanda is directly involved in what is happening in eastern Congo."

Let's hope this denial also goes viral. My guess is it won't, since the news cycle has moved on from the reports of new hostilities in Congo to the ubiquitous fog of war. Lesson six of R.S. McNamara's eleven lessons of war is "get the data."

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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