The United Nations Security Council today reiterated that the “swift neutralization” of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) armed group is a top priority in bringing stability to and protecting the civilians of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region.
The 15-member body noted in a press statement that 2 October marked the half-way point of the six-month timeframe for the voluntary surrender of the FDLR as set out by the joint International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting of Ministers of Defence on 2 July.
Since that date “no further voluntary surrenders of members of the FDLR have happened and the FDLR have failed to deliver on their public promise to voluntarily demobilize,” the Council noted with deep concern.
Leaders and members of the FDLR are among the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed, the Council recalled. Indeed, the FDLR is a group under UN sanctions and which has continued to promote and commit ethnically based and other killings in Rwanda and in the DRC.
Council members reaffirmed support for regional commitments made by the ICGLR and SADC to end the threat of armed groups and undertake a three-month review of the FDLR disarmament process.
It was important to conclude this process swiftly, have a clearly defined end-state and support the process through credible military action by the DRC, with the support of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
They stressed that “only substantial progress toward the full demobilization called for by the region and committed to by the FDLR could justify any further reprieve from military action against the FDLR.”
The Council said it would assess the process through the number of surrenders, the number of working weapons handed over, the agreement of those surrendering to be transferred to holding areas determined by the DRC government in coordination with MONUSCO, and the transfer of control over territory to the DRC authorities.
The Council reiterated its call on the Government of the DRC, in coordination with MONUSCO, to undertake military action against those leaders and members of the FDLR who do not engage in the demobilization process or who continue to carry out human rights abuses. There was no need for political dialogue with the FDLR, Members said, reaffirming the need to arrest and bring to justice those responsible war crimes.