Rwandan military officers are fueling violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a United Nations report has said.
According to the “confidential” 43-page report of the UN Group of Experts, the March 23 movement (M23) continues to recruit fighters from neighboring Rwanda with the help of Rwandan military officers, Reuters reported on Friday.
Reuters claimed that it had seen the report.
“The group sent a letter to the government of Rwanda on 14 June 2013 asking for clarification about this support and looks forward to a reply,” the U.N. experts said in the report.
The UN Group of Experts presented the report to the UN Security Council’s Congo sanctions committee.
The UN and Kinshasa have repeatedly accused Rwanda and Uganda of helping the rebels in Congo.
Rwanda and Uganda have always denied the charges that they are backing the M23, but Kigali and Kampala have never publicly condemned the militia, which is strengthening its grip over the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu in the eastern Congo.
“Since the outset of its current mandate, the group has to date found no indication of support to the rebels from within Uganda, and has gathered evidence of continuous – but limited – support to M23 from within Rwanda,” the report added.
Several armed groups, including the M23 rebels, are active in the east of the DRC and fighting for control of the country’s vast mineral resources, such as gold, the main tin ore cassiterite, and coltan (columbite-tantalite), which is used to make many electronic devices, including cell phones.
The M23 rebels defected from the Congolese army in April 2012 in protest over alleged mistreatment in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC). They had previously been integrated into the Congolese army under a peace deal signed in 2009.
Since early May 2012, nearly 3 million people have fled their homes in the eastern Congo. About 2.5 million have resettled in Congo, but more than 460,000 have crossed into neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.