UN Security Council Sanctions Six DRC Armed Group Leaders

East African Regional Force (EACRF) Deputy Force Commander Brigadier General Emmanuel Kaputa (R) and M23 spokesman Willy Ngoma (L) shake hands in Kibumba in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on December 23, 2022. DR Congo’s M23 rebels on December 23, 2022 met soldiers from a regional military force to hand over a strategic frontline position near the eastern city of Goma.

The United Nations Security Council has sanctioned six prominent members of armed groups operating in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, where hostilities with government forces have escalated in recent weeks.

Willy Ngoma, an M23 rebel spokesman notorious for films in which he poses with Congolese or Burundian troops taken during the war, was one of six people added to the sanctions list on Tuesday.

The measures include an asset freeze, including in the DRC, and a travel prohibition.

Ngoma is the fifth senior M23 member to face Security Council penalties.

The UN and international human rights organizations have accused the Tutsi-majority rebel group of carrying out countless massacres and atrocities in eastern DRC.

After several months of relative calm in the region, fighting flared up again this month near Goma, the seat of the DRC’s North Kivu province.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations, and Western countries allege that Rwanda is aiding the rebels in order to control massive mineral resources, which Kigali denies.

Michel Rukunda, also known as “Makanika,” commands the Tutsi-majority Twirwaneho armed group, which a UN delegation of experts claims is affiliated with M23.

Rukunda, a deserter from the Congolese army, is accused of “recruiting or using children in armed conflict in the DRC in violation of applicable international law,” according to the UN sanctions release.

Rwandan Apollinaire Hakizimana, a member of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a primarily Hutu group founded by former Tutsi genocide perpetrators, has also been sanctioned.

The FDLR has committed multiple heinous crimes against civilians in Congo.

Two ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) leaders, one from Tanzania and the other from Uganda, have also been sanctioned.

Over the last ten years, their gang, which is linked to the Islamic State, has killed thousands of civilians in eastern DRC and Uganda.

William Yakutumba, head of the “maimai” alliance of armed organizations, has also been charged with crimes against civilians committed by his gunmen.

According to Christoph Vogel, a Ghent University scholar and former UN armed groups expert, the penalties will likely “have little impact in a context like Congo, where most war criminals travel little and have no bank accounts abroad.”

Written by PH

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