UN Security Council sanctions six individuals involved in DRC conflict News
U.S. Department of State, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
UN Security Council sanctions six individuals involved in DRC conflict

The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on six individuals affiliated with various armed factions in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday. Sanctioned individuals were allegedly involved in obstructing disarmament and repatriation efforts, committing human rights violations such as murder and sexual violence, recruiting child soldiers, orchestrating or carrying out attacks on civilians, and facilitating destabilizing activities through the illicit trade of natural resources. Among those sanctioned was Willy Ngoma, a major and military spokesperson for the M23 group, who allegedly participated in planning, promulgating and supporting the armed group’s activities, in addition to committing human rights violations.

There have been intensifying clashes near Sake and Goma in North Kivu impacting the humanitarian situation. Following the Armed Forces of the DRC’s (FARDC) engagement against the M23, armed factions such as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) have risen, resulting in summary executions, forced displacements and sexual violence. These events unfold as the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) prepares to leave the country.

Bintou Keita, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC and the head of MONUSCO, voiced concern over the region’s state. She highlighted cases of cholera outbreaks caused by a lack of drinkable water, proper sanitation and hygiene facilities. Keita also decried internet disinformation operations against MONUSCO, which have contributed to the unfriendly treatment of UN peacekeepers. Representatives of Japan and the Republic of Korea expressed the same concern about the negative impact on UN peacekeepers’ safety brought by disinformation campaigns.

Apart from the dire state the DRC is currently in, the representative of the DRC also strongly criticised the recent assaults carried out by the Rwandan Defence Forces and M23. He urged the United Nations Security Council and the African Union to develop an ad hoc framework for expelling the aggressors from Congolese soil. He also urged the council to demand Rwanda’s immediate withdrawal of soldiers and withdrawal of support for M23.

Delegates from France and the US similarly urged Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 and remove its armed forces from the DRC. Furthermore, delegates from Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of Algeria, Guyana and Mozambique, advocated for urgent action to prevent a security void and the rise of factions such as M23, ADF, Zaire and the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) once MONUSCO withdrew.

In response, the Rwandan delegate, concerned about the situation in North Kivu, alleged the existence of a military coalition combining FARDC, European mercenaries, FDLR and extremist Hutu groups. He emphasised the importance of protecting Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese people and preventing similar tragedies from recurring.

In expressing US support for the sanctions, Ambassador Robert Wood commented:

The international community must take immediate steps to end the fighting in eastern DRC and de-escalate tensions between the DRC and Rwanda. Millions of people are already exposed to a grave humanitarian crisis. The scale of displacement, human rights abuses, gender-based violence, and suffering is appalling.