Nobel Prize Winner Criticizes Western ‘Carelessness’, Urges Action Against Violence in DR Congo | conflict and weapons

The West must abandon its “double standards” and act decisively against violence worsening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), said Nobel Prize-winning surgeon Dr. Denis Mukwege.

In a scathing criticism of the “negligence” of the international community, Mukwege urged Britain and its allies to impose sanctions on neighboring countries. Rwanda to help alleviate the growing crisis in the east of the country.

Kigali has been accused by the UN of supporting the rebel M23 militia, which returned to the charge in November 2021 after years of inactivity and has since seized a swath of territory in eastern DRC. Rwanda denies the claim.

The failure of the West to target the country with sanctions risks not only perpetuating the violence in North Kivu province, but also the perception that it is indifferent to the suffering of Africans, Mukwege said.

“We can see very clearly that this policy of double standards is undermining the credibility of the international multilateral system. I’m sorry to say that this kind of flexible humanism is frustrating young Africans,” said Mukwege, comparing the huge international response to the war in Ukraine with muted references to the “totally forgotten” DRC.

In fact, he warned, Western diplomatic inertia was already boosting support among many young Africans for the old enemy of Western imperialism. “At the protests they now wave the Russian flag,” he said. “Now, I don’t think Russia is a solution… but there really is a lack of trust among Africans right now in the policies pursued by many European countries.”

moscow has increased its presence on the African continent in recent years, often focusing on the most unstable areas where resentment against former colonial powers is most easily fanned.

In North Kivu province, renewed fighting between the M23 – the March 23 Movement, a Tutsi rebel group – and the national armed forces has driven at least 390,000 people from their homes, according to the UN.

Last week, the UN accused the rebels of arbitrarily killing at least 131 people (men, women and children) in the villages of Kishishe and Bambo in Rutshuru in late November. The militia has denied responsibility, while the government estimated the death toll in closer to 300.

Mukwege – a gynecologist who won the nobel peace prize along with Yazidi activist Nadia Murad for their efforts against sexual violence as a weapon of war, said colleagues in North Kivu hospitals were seeing the number of patients, including rape victims, “increasing significantly ”.

She had recently been to a camp for internally displaced persons near Goma, where she said the teenage girls lived “in a state of constant fear due to the fact that at any moment they risk being destroyed by people who see them as a game… to be hunted.”

Displaced people in Goma await a distribution of food and non-food items distributed by UNICEF
A camp for internally displaced persons near Goma. More than 390,000 have fled their homes because of clashes between the M23 and the Congolese army. Photograph: Guerchom Ndebo/AFP/Getty Images

Since the M23 took up arms in late 2021, scrutiny of its alleged links to neighboring Rwanda has returned. In August, the UN said it had “strong evidence” that Rwandan troops had been fighting alongside the M23, while last week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed in a phone call with Rwandan President Paul Kagame that his country’s “assistance to M23” must end. the state department said.

“The United States has proof… The UN experts have proof,” Mukwege said. “So the question is: what is the West waiting for to sanction Rwanda for the crimes against humanity that are being committed, these serious violations of human rights?”

Mukwege compared the “troubling neglect” of the international community to the “courageous decision” made by Barack Obama in 2013 to block military aid to Rwanda for his support of the M23, which was accused of using child soldiers.

Mukwege said he suspected many Western countries were reluctant to act for fear of harming their economic interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the most mineral-rich countries in Africa and the world’s top supplier of cobalt, crucial for making smartphones. and electric vehicles.

“Why can’t we do things differently?” he said. “Create commercial links that allow the Congolese to live in peace and the mining companies to do their work in a win-win relationship… you don’t have to go back to the 19th century, to the time of Leopold II, to have mobile phones or car batteries” .

Mukwege, who was in London last month for a Conference organized by the UK government on preventing sexual violence in conflict, urged Britain and other European countries to establish a “coherent” policy, adding: “I think recognizing that Rwanda supports M23, which is a terrorist group that kills, rapes and destroys the population, it has to be followed by sanctions.”

The M23 denies being a terrorist group. Bertrand Bisimwa, his self-proclaimed president, told the guardian via WhatsApp last week that it was trying to “definitively resolve the root causes of the conflict through dialogue and for this the M23 is making an effort to discourage the efforts of [the government] impose a military solution.

He did not directly deny a close relationship with Rwanda, saying there were people there who “know our problems.” But such a draw has been repeatedly denied by Kigali.

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