Rwanda denies claims defense forces attacked DRC internally displaced persons camp News
Kudra_Abdulaziz / Pixabay
Rwanda denies claims defense forces attacked DRC internally displaced persons camp

Rwanda denied on Saturday claims made by US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller accusing its forces of an attack targeting the Mugunga camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Goma, a city in east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Rwandan government released a statement arguing the accusations, made without any investigation, are “unjustified.” It also said proper investigations must be carried out beforehand in order to unveil the causes behind the attacks. It accused the US government of using Rwanda as a scapegoat for “the shortcomings and wrongdoing of the DRC.” Rwanda government spokesperson Yolande Makolo stated in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that “[t]he RDF, a professional army, would never attack an IDP camp. Look to the lawless FDLR & Wazalendo supported by the FARDC, for this kind of atrocity.”

The bomb attacks on displacement camps in Mugunga, Lac Vert and Lushagala damaged crucial humanitarian structures, killing at least 12 people and injuring around 30 more, including children on Friday. The UN condemned the attack, with UNICEF Representative to the DRC Grant Leaity stating:

The civilian population of North Kivu province has witnessed the worst humanitarian violations for over two years in this bloody attrition. UNHCR calls for all actors to halt this senseless violence and to respect the sanctity of protected humanitarian sites. We also echo the calls by displaced families themselves for peace, which is urgently needed in eastern DRC.

The US State Department released a statement in the aftermath of the deaths accusing the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) and March 23 Movement (M23), a rebel military group allegedly backed by Rwanda in Congo, of having perpetrated the attacks. It expressed its concerns over the expansion of both parties in the DRC, which resulted in the displacement of millions, and called on both to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

Violence in the eastern region of the DRC has increased and caused the internal displacement of more than 6.1 million people. In a 2023 report, Human Rights Watch reported M23 has been responsible for unlawful killings, rapes and other apparent war crimes since late 2022. The UN began withdrawing its mission known as the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) by transferring control of its first base of operations in February to the Congolese government as part of the its plan to end its current humanitarian operations within the African country by the end of the year.