The United Nations and its partners today renewed their call for the complete surrender of all leaders and combatants of the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which has caused untold suffering in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for many years.
The call was issued by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson; his Special Representative in the DRC, Martin Kobler; the United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and the DRC, Russ Feingold; the Special Representative of the African Union, Boubacar Diarra; and the European Union Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region, Koen Vervaeke.
It comes after a representative of the group, known by its French acronym FDLR, stated in a letter that the rebels would lay down their weapons on 30 May 2014 in two locations in North and South Kivu provinces. Reports indicate that no such activity took place in South Kivu, and up until now, an “insignificant” number of low-ranking combatants surrendered in North Kivu, according to a joint statement by the envoys.
“The envoys recall that the FDLR is an illegitimate armed group that is the subject of UN sanctions, responsible for grave human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and that has caused untold suffering throughout eastern Congo and in Rwanda,” said the statement.
It noted that members of the FDLR who choose not to surrender, renounce violence, and submit to a disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process will remain subject to military action by the Congolese national army and the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC (MONUSCO), in line with its mandate to neutralize armed groups.
Those members of the FDLR who surrender and want to return to Rwanda can be repatriated, it added.