Thu, Oct 18, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Rwanda arms Congo rebels: UN

M23:Experts said Rwandan officials were commanding a group in the DR Congo with help from Uganda, and that recruitment of child solders was growing

Reuters, UNITED NATIONS

The experts said that units of the Ugandan and Rwandan armies “jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July 2012 to take over the major towns in Rutshuru Territory and the [Congolese army] base of Rumangabo.”

During these attacks, the rebels killed a UN peacekeeper and fired on a UN peacekeeping base at Kiwanja, Congo.

Ugandan military spokesman Felix Kulayigye rejected the report.

“Where’s the evidence for their claims? Some of those so-called experts came here and did not interview anyone,” he said. “Where’s their authentic facts to back those claims? Those accusations are absolute rubbish, hogwash.”

Rwandan President Paul Kagame reiterated Rwanda’s denials at a high-level meeting in New York last month that both he and Congolese President Joseph Kabila attended.

The Group of Experts said that it has corroborated its findings with multiple intelligence sources.

“Various South African Development Community, European, Ugandan, and Burundian intelligence agents also confirmed the group’s findings concerning Rwandan violations of the [arms] embargo,” the report said.

It added that the Rwandans have stepped up recruitment for M23, which has around 1,250 soldiers.

It said the Rwandan army was targeting Rwandan demobilized soldiers and civilians and Congolese refugees to recruit for M23, while M23 itself has stepped up its use and recruitment of child soldiers.

Since May, the experts said M23 has recruited about 250 children and killed dozens who tried to escape.

“M23 uses boys on the frontlines as cover for advancing units, often after a week of training,” the experts said. “Others act as porters, intelligence operatives and bodyguards. The rebels use young girls as cooks and as commanders’ wives.”

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