UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The UN Security Council on Tuesday backed joint military action by the UN force in the Democratic Republic of Congo and government troops against former Hutu rebels who refuse to surrender.
In a unanimous statement, the 14-member council said flushing out the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu militia that includes perpetrators of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis, was a “top priority in bringing stability” to the region.
The council “encouraged the DRC government, in coordination with MONUSCO, to actively pursue military action against those leaders and members of the FDLR who do not engage in a demobilization process or who continue to carry out human rights abuses.”
The 20,000-strong UN force known as MONUSCO has been operating in the DR Congo for 20 years.
FDLR factions were last month given a six-month deadline to disarm, but UN officials have accused rebel leaders of stalling.
Only 200 fighters have agreed to lay down their arms out of 1,500 combatants, according to UN officials.
UN mission chief Martin Kobler had asked the council earlier this month for approval of joint military operations against FDLR factions that are not willing to disarm.
The council expressed concern that the militia is continuing to recruit combatants, including children, and “stressed the importance of disarming and ending the threat caused by this illegal armed group.”
Disarming the FDLR took on added urgency following the defeat of the mainly Tutsi M23 rebels in the eastern DR Congo late last year.
UN officials see the recent disarming of rebel groups as crucial progress after two decades of conflict in the eastern DR Congo, many of which have spilled over the Rwandan genocide and are fueled by the lucrative trade in minerals.
The statement from the UN Security Council followed a visit last week to the region by Said Djinnit, the Algerian diplomat recently named to replace Mary Robinson as special envoy to the Great Lakes.