DR Congo M23 rebels placed under UN sanctions
Cartoon: Radio Netherlands International
The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on leaders of the M23 rebel movement in DR Congo.
Under the measures, those linked to the group will have their assets frozen and be barred from travel. Similar measures were taken against Rwandan FDLR rebels.
Made up of deserters from the army, the M23 captured Goma - on DR Congo's eastern border with Rwanda - from government and UN troops last month.
It later withdrew from the city, following international condemnation.
The New Year's Eve sanctions come the day before Rwanda joins the Security Council for a two-year term.
The UN and DR Congo government accuse Rwanda and Uganda of backing the rebels, an allegation they strongly deny.
Rwanda is widely seen as having backed armed groups in the east of DR Congo as a way to fight Hutu rebels, such as the FDLR, who fled there after the 1994 genocide.
It has been accused of using militias as proxies in an on-going battle for the region, which is rich in minerals. The Rwandan government strenuously denies the accusations.
And the reward ? A seat on the UN Security Council. Mines and Communities reports.
" Following the looting of stockpiles, Rwanda and Uganda have been extracting diamonds, gold, coltan, timber and coffee from the eastern Congo and illegally exporting these to the West. Rwanda has made U.S.$250 million in 18 months from coltan exports alone. According to the "Christian Science Monitor," every day cargo flights full of diamonds, gold and palm oil leave the Congo for Kigali and Kampala (Uganda's capital). Seven to ten such daily flights come into Kigali. Most of their cargo is loaded on to planes bound for Europe. Diamond exports from Rwanda and Uganda to the West have surged since 1998 yet neither country has any diamond mines. During 1999-2000, Uganda exported U.S.$3 million worth of diamonds. Diamond dealers in the Congo provide U.S.$2 million a year to the Rwandan army."
The M23 rebellion started when a militia that had been absorbed into the Congolese army mutinied and went on the rampage in the eastern part of the country.
Since then some 700,000 people have been displaced by fighting between the M23 and the army.
Sanctions. That is the best the world can do. Not 700,000 but 900,000 refugees and internally displaced people and a fucking travel ban is it.