Friday, January 17, 2014

DR Congo: FDLR - " Dream coins for the fountain or to cover your eyes "

Emmanuel blogs at Virunga National Parks Gorilla blog 

Ranger Patrol Ambushed by FDLR - One Ranger Killed, Two Wounded

                                          A smoldering charcoal kiln ( Photo Virunga National Park )

I am deeply saddened to report that one of Virunga National Park’s rangers, Mbera Bagabo, was shot and killed and two other rangers were seriously wounded on January 11th when their foot patrol was ambushed by Rwandan FDLR militia. 

The people of Virunga national park are doing the work of humanity, by comparison the FDLR are the genocidal scum responsible for the murder of 800,000 people ( Tutsi and moderate Hutu ) in three months in Rwanda in 1994. As we in the west have to put up with Neo Nazi scum so unfortunately also do the people of the Eastern DR Congo have to deal with racist fanatics. The world would be a lot be a lot better place without them.

Three FDLR were also killed and one was apprehended in the subsequent fighting. 

Good.There is very little I agree with Rwandas President Kagame about but with regard to the FDLR we see eye to eye. Mbere Bagabo legacy  to humanity will live on. I am just saddened that the Intervention ( Africa ) Brigade and FARDC ( The Congolese Army ) are still dealing with the Ugandan ADF rebels and haven't gotten to the FDLR yet. They will.

The rangers were being deployed in the area to secure a major road running alongside the park for the public and to protect Virunga from illegal forest destruction in an area that contains Congo’s only population of critically endangered mountain gorillas.

The Virunga National Park blog explains quite graphically the price that the world will pay if this illegal industry is not halted. 

                                                  The gorilla massacre of 2007 was connected to the illegal charcoal industry. 

The FDLR are an illegal movement believed to still include perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Emmanuel is being diplomatic. There is no doubt that the FDLR are the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. The UN Experts group on the DR Congo put the FDLR numbers at about 1500. 
" Based on interviews with ex-FDLR combatants and UN sources, the Group estimates FDLR has approximately 1,500 combatants in both provinces (see S/2013/433, para. 97); of these, approximately 1,000 are in North Kivu. The Government of Rwanda told the Group that FDLR has 4,000 to 4,200 combatants."

It is in Rwanda's interests to exaggerate the size of the FDLR and Rwanda Has used the presence of the FDLR to both invade and support rebellions in the Eastern DR Congo contributing to the instability of the region.

The attack took place about 10 km north of the city of Goma in the area affected by violent battles between government forces and M23 rebels in October last year.

M23 were of course the Rwandan backed rebels defeated by FARDC and the Intervention Brigade last year. The FDLR seem to be considered at number three in the priority of rebel groups slated for elimination.  

This is the worst attack on a Virunga ranger patrol in over a year. 

The attack is thought to have been carried out in retaliation against the rangers’ efforts to prevent the militias from regaining control of an area close to the habitat of the critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Given the history of the FDLR I would suggest it is vital that they are kept away from the gorilla habitat. 

The area is sought after by militias for its lucrative illegal charcoal trade with the city of Goma, known to be a major source of revenue for illegal armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Recent studies by national park staff have shown the illegal trade to be worth over US$ 35 million a year, much of which provides funding for illegal armed groups. Rangers are currently working to secure the area.

FARDC, the Intervention Brigade and it's parent organisation the UN Peace Keeping mission MONUSCO are working to eliminate the rebel groups in the Eastern DR Congo and provide stability for the region. Stability would allow development and that by virtue of the DR Congo's vast hydro electricity potential would kill the charcoal business for good. Incidently the staff of Virunga National Park have already built one hydro electric power plant.  

In the coming days, we will tell you more about the life of Ranger Bagabo, as well as give you an update on the other rangers injured in the attack.

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