Uk News Rwanda's rebel group M23 is on the rise - and it could throw the refugee plan into chaos United Kingdom news
PremierLeague-News.Com - M23 rebels have been accused of committing war crimes in the DRC nearly a decade ago, and now the group are engaged in renewed fighting on Rwanda's doorstep
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! While Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to defend the government’s controversial policy on sending asylum seekers to Rwanda, the east African nation is dealing with a huge refugee crisis brewing across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).Tens of thousands of people have become displaced since heavy fighting raged in eastern DRC between the Congolese army and M23 rebels, who are waging their most sustained offensive since a 2012-2013 insurrection that briefly overran the major city of Goma.The DRC has accused Rwanda of backing the rebels, including by sending its own troops into eastern Congo. Rwanda denies any involvement.The diplomatic crisis between the warring nations threatens to overshadow a Commonwealth leaders summit in Rwanda this week, which is being attended by Mr Johnson and Prince Charles.Armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo sit on a pick-up truck following renewed fighting with M23 rebels (Photo: Djaffar Sabiti/Reuters)It will be the first time the two figures meet after the Prince of Wales is said to have called the UK’s plans to forcibly remove migrants to Rwanda “appalling”. Phil Clark, professor of international politics at SOAS University of London, whose work focuses on conflict in central Africa, has also voiced concerns about the UK-Rwanda deal, not least because of how “volatile” the region has become in recent months, with fears of further violence to come.What is M23?The group formed in 2012 and was named after the date 23 March 2009, when the Congolese government signed a peace agreement with a pro-Tutsi militia. The group’s leadership is from the Tutsi ethnic group and has justified its attacks by saying it is battling the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a militia founded by ethnic Hutus who fled Rwanda after participating in the 1994 genocide. At least half a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the massacre.In 2012, M23 fighters captured Goma, a city of one million people and the capital of North Kivu province in eastern DRC, before being chased out by Congolese and UN forces into Rwanda and Uganda the following year.Professor Clark said the group “essentially disappeared” after disbanding, but that many of the ranks, including the leadership, stayed intact, with most of them ending up in Uganda. “The M23 leaders were living pretty freely in Kampala and there was always this question in the region whether they might come back, whether they could be reinvigorated by either the Ugandan or Rwandan governments,” Professor Clark told i. “And sure enough in 2021 that’s exactly what’s happened.”Nearly a decade after its disappearance following the 2012-2013 insurrection, the M23 resurfaced last November to attack positions of the Congolese army.How is it linked to Rwanda?The Rwandan government has strongly denied accusations that it supports the M23 fighting in the DRC, mainly over fears that its international donors would stop sending aid to the country.During the past 10 years there have been a series of reports by the UN tracing the links between the Rwandan army and M23 rebels. In one summary, it said: “Several eyewitness testimonies state that M23 receives general military supplies from the Rwandan defence forces in the form of weapons and ammunition in addition to material support for combat operations.”The Human Rights Watch also backed this claim, saying in 2012 that the Rwandan army “deployed its troops to eastern Congo to directly support the M23 rebels”.Professor Clark said both Rwanda and Uganda have an interest in using these rebels as proxies to destabilise eastern Congo but that the situation was “fluid and complex”.
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. It has a life of its own as a rebel movement.“The leadership of the M23 are very experienced commanders who have spent a long time inside the Congolese army.“What is often commented about them is that they’re very well armed, very well trained, and very disciplined, and that’s probably because they’re being supported by Rwanda and Uganda.”What has sparked current hostilities? Ever since 2013, M23 has accused Congolese authorities of not living up to promises to fully integrate Tutsis into the army and government.In November last year, the Congolese government signed a new agreement with Uganda to launch a joint military operation against the Isis-linked Allied Democratic Forces following major bomb attacks in Uganda attributed to this group.The deal allowed Uganda to station its troops across the border in Congo, which has incensed Rwanda. “It was a red rag to a bull for Rwanda, because the Rwandan government fears their sphere of influence in eastern Congo is going to be disrupted,” Professor Clark said, adding that Rwandan businesses are heavily networked in eastern DRC. “Seemingly, the reason that we are now seeing M23 reinvigorated is because of Rwanda’s concern it is losing influence in eastern Congo.”What does this mean for the UK-Rwanda refugee plan?There is no official death toll of the 2012-2013 insurrection, but hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed, and hundreds of thousands displaced. M23 fighters were accused of summarily executing dozens of civilians, raping scores of women and girls and forcibly recruiting hundreds of men and boys, and now there are fears that the region might be seeing a return to that kind of violence.Peace talks have been held in Kenya to try to end the fighting, which has culminated in the DRC agreeing to a proposal to deploy a regional force to fight the M23 rebel group, but it does not want Rwanda to get involved.More on RwandaHow an oblivious Boris Johnson was blindsided by Dowden's resignation after his morning swim24 June, 2022PM and Clarence House try to defuse row over Prince Charles' Rwanda plan criticism23 June, 2022Carrie Johnson appearing at Commonwealth summit amid claims PM tried to get her jobs22 June, 2022“Everybody is petrified about a return to the kind of African great war of the 1990s, with the armies of the region using eastern Congo as their battlefield,” said Professor Clark. “I don’t think that that’s imminent, but that’s definitely what current diplomacy is trying to stop.”All this is happening while the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is taking place, which Mr Johnson said he hopes would “help others to shed some of their condescending attitudes to Rwanda”.Professor Clark is not so sure about that.He said: “In one of the most volatile times in the region in the past 10 years, it’s ironic that you have the Commonwealth meeting happening at Kigali, and there’s very little talk about what’s happening literally 400 km away.“It may as well be planets away given the way a lot of these leaders are talking at the moment.”He described the UK’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda as “crazy” and a “terrible idea”.While Rwanda has a good track record of looking after asylum seekers and refugees, Professor Clark said it is also “a huge generator of refugees in the region because of its armed meddling in its neighbour’s affairs”.Additional reporting by Reuters
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