The United Nations expressed new concern on Tuesday that rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo are getting arms from other countries, as it sent reinforcements to a threatened city.
The UN Security Council is to discuss the new strife Tuesday while international leaders are to use an African Union summit in Addis Ababa later this week to try to defuse tensions between Congo and Rwanda over the fighting.
“The UN mission is doing its utmost in coordination with the Congolese army to protect civilians,” Roger Meece, head of the UN mission in Congo, was quoted as saying by the UN spokesman.
Meece also “voiced his concern about continuing reports that M23 mutineers are receiving external support and are well-armed, trained and equipped,” the spokesman added.
The Congo government and a UN sanctions panel report have accused Rwanda of helping the the M23 fighters, who took one town on the Uganda border last week and forced 600 government troops to flee. There are growing fears that M23 may now target the provincial capital of Goma.
M23, a group of mutineers led by accused war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, has already briefly taken other towns near its new stronghold in Bunagana.
“It would be disastrous if Goma was taken,” said a UN official who gave details of the reinforcements. Goma, a city of more than 500,000 people, is also the center of the key minerals industry in the east of Congo.