UK International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has this week visited Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. He saw for himself the humanitarian situation in Eastern DRC and held high level discussions in both DRC and Rwanda regarding the situation in the Kivus.
He urged both sides to work together to eliminate the instability that has plagued the region for decades and has been worsened by the recent formation of the M23 armed group.
Speaking after his visit to the region, Mitchell said:
Thanks to Britain’s longstanding and candid relationships with both DRC and Rwanda I have been able to deliver frank messages to both governments about the need to take urgent action to resolve this destabilising conflict in the Kivus once and for all.
For DRC, it is essential that the state and its armed forces improve their capacity to deal with the situation on the ground. As a village chief told me forcefully at a United Nations (UN) field post in Ntoto, one of the root causes of this conflict is the limited reach of the Congolese state and the limited capacity of its armed forces
For Rwanda, I stressed that the government needs to encourage the M23 and Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC) to resolve their differences through dialogue not fighting, and be clear publicly that Bosco Ntaganda, a key M23 figure, is an indicted war criminal who should not be allowed to remain at large as part of any solution to the current conflict.
I emphasised that there needs to be dialogue between Rwanda and DRC at high level and I am therefore pleased that Presidents Kabila and Kagame have now met in Addis Ababa and agreed to work towards a regional solution to the current crisis.
Britain’s development support to the people of both DRC and Rwanda allows millions of people the chance of escaping desperate poverty. We stand by those citizens, many of whom are doubly cursed by poverty and by the human consequences of conflict, and encourage the governments of the region to continue to work together to tackle this destabilising and brutal situation.
Andrew Mitchell visited DRC on 13th July. He travelled with General Foster, the British Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). He met the Congolese Chief of Defence Staff General Etumba.
He visited the city of Goma and the UN field post at Ntoto. He was briefed by the UN in detail on the complex situation of the numerous armed groups in Eastern Congo. He also visited the Mugunga III Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp which has swelled to hold 14,000 people, and a rehabilition centre for ex child soldiers as young as 10.
In March 2012 he visited Kinshasa for talks with the President and other ministers.
In Rwanda on 15th and 16th July 2012, Andrew Mitchell met the Defence Minister, Finance Minister, and other government representatives. As well as discussions about Eastern DRC they discussed media reform and the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. Last week Andrew Mitchell met President Kagame in London and gave similar messages.