August 26, 2014 / 2:58 PM / 5 years ago

U.N. council urges "neutralization" of Rwandan rebels in Congo

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday called for the “swift neutralization” of Rwandan rebels in Democratic Republic of the Congo as essential to bringing stability to the conflict-torn eastern regions of the country.

    Rwandan FDLR rebels, who seek to overthrow the Rwandan government and who include former soldiers and Hutu militia held responsible for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, announced in April they would disarm, and some began doing so in May.

    But a senior U.N. official warned earlier this month that some FDLR members believe an extended deadline for their disarming was an excuse to stall.

    “The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their support for the swift neutralization of the FDLR, as a top priority in bringing stability to the DRC and the Great Lakes region,” the 15-country council said in a statement.

    “They expressed deep concern regarding the sustained domestic and regional threat posed by the FDLR, including recent reports of continued human rights abuses by members of the FDLR and continued recruiting and training of combatants, including children,” it said.

The council statement adding that it “stressed the importance of disarming and ending the threat caused by this illegal armed group.”

    The Congolese government presented a 22-day plan for the group to disarm in May, but since then, the United Nations has said, fewer than 200 rebels have voluntarily disarmed out an estimated 1,500. So, African countries agreed in early July to extend for six months the deadline for the FDLR to disarm.

    The United Nations has a 22,000-strong peacekeeping force in the country.

    The U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MONUSCO, received a boost last year with the unprecedented deployments of unarmed surveillance drones and a U.N. Intervention Brigade of 3,000 troops, which helped Congolese forces defeat the M23 rebel group.

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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