The Security Council this afternoon called for immediate military action by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in cooperation with United Nations peacekeepers, to “neutralize” a Rwandan armed group that continued to threaten civilians in the eastern part of the country after a 2 January deadline to disband.
Through a statement read out by Cristián Barros Melet of Chile, whose delegation holds the body’s rotating presidency for January, the Council said that the deadline for the unconditional surrender of all cadres of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) — set by the International Conference on the Great Lakes region and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) — had passed, and the group, which has been recognized by the Council as being involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, continued to recruit new fighters.
In that context, the 15-member body reiterated the need to put into action the plans of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Armed Forces (FARDC) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), as per paragraph 4b of resolution 2147 (2014) of 28 March 2014, which extended the Mission’s mandate and authorized robust use of its Force Intervention Brigade to neutralize armed groups that threatened civilians.
On 5 November 2014, through another presidential statement, the Council had advised MONUSCO and the Congolese Government to immediately update operational plans for military actions against members of FDLR who did not surrender by the deadline.
“The swift neutralization of the FDLR is a top priority in bringing stability to and protecting the citizens of the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] and the Great Lakes region, in line with the wider commitments made in the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] and the region,” the Council said in today’s statement.
The Council reiterated that FDLR combatants and their dependents could still choose a peaceful path by entering into the existing demobilization programme, which it said had successfully repatriated a significant number of former fighters to Rwanda. It stressed, however, that the surrender of some 300 FDLR members in 2014, “consisting of mainly old and non-essential combatants”, was insufficient to end the threat posed by the group.
Ahead of the reading of the statement, members of the Council observed a minute of silence in memory of those who perished in yesterday’s attack on the offices of a weekly newspaper in Paris.
The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 3:17 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2015/1 reads as follows:
“The Security Council recalls its Presidential Statement of 5 November 2014 and reiterates its deep concern regarding the security and humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to ongoing destabilizing activities of foreign and domestic armed groups, and stresses the importance of neutralizing all armed groups, including, among others, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
“The Security Council notes that the 2 January deadline set by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has passed, and that the FDLR has not only failed to unconditionally and fully surrender and demobilize, but has also continued to recruit new fighters in their ranks.
“The Security Council, while noting the surrender of an estimated 300 former rank and file members of the FDLR in 2014, consisting of mainly old and non-essential combatants, stresses that such surrenders alone are insufficient to end the threat posed by the group, and does not come close to representing the full demobilization of the FDLR as called for by the ICGLR, SADC and the Security Council.
“The Security Council further recalls that the swift neutralization of the FDLR is a top priority in bringing stability to and protecting the civilians of the DRC and the Great Lakes region, in line with the wider commitments made in the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region.
“The Security Council notes the DRC Government’s 2 January statement in which it stated that military action against the FDLR is now ‘inevitable’, and that the region, represented by the ICGLR and SADC, has made clear its support for military action by the DRC and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), in the absence of the full demobilization of the FDLR, including its military leadership, with the objective of ending the threat posed by the group.
“The Security Council reiterates the need to put into sustained action the plans of the FARDC and MONUSCO through its Force Intervention Brigade in cooperation with the whole of MONUSCO as per OP4 (b) of UNSC resolution 2147 (2014) to neutralize the FDLR by commencing military operations immediately.
“To that end, the Security Council calls on the authorities of the DRC and, in particular, President Kabila as Commander in Chief, to approve swiftly and implement fully the MONUSCO-FARDC Joint Directive.
“The Security Council further notes the convening of a SADC/ICGLR Summit scheduled for 15-16 January in Luanda, Angola.
“The Security Council reiterates its support for MONUSCO and calls on all parties, including Force Intervention Brigade troop-contributing countries, to remain committed to the full and objective implementation of the Mission’s mandate, including military operations to neutralize the FDLR. The Security Council stresses that such operations must be done in strict compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law.
“The Security Council further stresses that ending the threat of the FDLR, including through robust military action by the FARDC and MONUSCO through its Force Intervention Brigade in cooperation with the whole of MONUSCO as per OP4 (b) of resolution 2147 (2014), is a critical and necessary component of civilian protection, and expresses its intention to take into account progress made in ending the threat of the FDLR in assessing next steps in the Great Lakes.
“The Security Council reiterates its readiness to consider targeted sanctions against any individual or entity found to be supporting the FDLR.
“The Security Council further reiterates that FDLR combatants and their dependents may still at any point and without any preconditions, choose a peaceful path by entering into the existing DDR/RR programme, which has successfully repatriated a significant number, and continues to successfully repatriate, former FDLR to Rwanda.
“The Security Council emphasizes the importance of addressing the root causes of the conflict in eastern DRC and on a need for a comprehensive approach to restore peace and stability in the affected areas.”