Today, as the six-month grace period for the full and unconditional surrender of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) armed group expires, the United Nations and its partners urged that “all necessary measures” be taken to disarm the rebels, who have had a long history of heinous crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Leaders and members of the FDLR, who were among the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, were given six months to voluntarily surrender, 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 2014.
In a news release issued today, a team of international envoys that includes the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Said Djinnit and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in DRC Martin Kobler, noted with concern that the FDLR has not met this deadline.
“Instead, the FDLR has used this six-month grace period to continue to commit human rights abuses against innocent people in eastern DRC, recruit combatants, and champion its illegitimate political agenda,” said the news release.
“Ending the threat of the FDLR is not just a DRC responsibility; it is a regional and international responsibility. We all have a deep commitment to ensuring accountability for those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”
By failing to fully comply with the deadline, “the FDLR has left the region and the international community with no other option than to pursue the military option against those within the armed group that are unwilling to voluntarily disarm,” the news release went on, adding that there is no justification for further delaying the neutralization of a group that is responsible for “a long history of heinous crimes.”
The envoys called on the DRC Government and the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO), including its Force Intervention Brigade, to take all necessary measures to disarm the FDLR.
The team of envoys also include the African Union Special Representative for the Great Lakes, Boubacar Diarra; the European Union Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes, Koen Vervaeke; the United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the DRC, Russell D. Feingold; and Belgium’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Frank de Coninck.