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UN reports conclusive evidence increases pressure to act decisively in Kivus

Christian Aid says it is now imperative that a regional political solution be found for the conflict in eastern Congo following the release of a UN report which has presented conclusive evidence that the Rwandan and Congolese governments are supporting illegal armed groups in eastern Congo.

The UN investigation revealed the extent of the links between the Rwandan government and the forces of the dissident rebel leader, Laurent Nkunda.

The UN group of experts conducting the investigation "found evidence that Rwandan authorities have been complicit in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the Rwandan Defence Forces to the [Democratic Republic of Congo] in support of the CNDP."

The report also presented evidence showing links between the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Hutu militia, the FDLR, elements of which have been roaming eastern DRC since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

‘There can only be a political solution to this war,’ says Judith Melby, Christian Aid’s Africa specialist. ‘We have a framework in the Goma Act of Engagement of January 2007 which was signed by more than 20 Congolese armed groups, including Laurent Nkunda’s force. This must now be implemented and rebel troops withdrawn to earlier positions so that displaced people can return to their homes.’

Recent events have shown that progress can be made when there is concerted, high-level, robust diplomacy. Diplomatic efforts must also be complemented by effective international peacekeeping to protect civilians. This is why Christian Aid is deeply disappointed by the EU’s inaction to provide an EU bridging force to the region.

‘We would like to see the UK government take leadership in supporting the rapid deployment of an EU force. We think this could make the difference in the immediate term as it will take months for MONUC to be reinforced,’ says Ms Melby.

Christian Aid believes that the UK, as one of the biggest aid donors to both Rwanda and the DRC and an influential diplomatic actor, has an important role to rapidly de-escalate the crisis and address the underlying causes of the conflict in light of the UN findings.

‘The Rwandan government must now come under serious pressure from the international community to withdraw any support it has been providing to the CNDP, as well as any Rwandan military personnel or equipment which may have been supplied to the CNDP,’ says Ms Melby.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

For more information or interviews contact Judith Melby on 07720 467 679 or jmelby@christian-aid.org