Tens of thousands of civilians are likely to be forced to flee their homes during a planned offensive by Congolese and United Nations forces against Rwandan Hutu rebels entrenched in eastern Congo, a U.N. agency has warned. The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that attacks on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) would affect hundreds of thousands of people. The warning came after the U.N. Security Council approved the offensive against the FDLR, some of whose members were involved in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, which failed to meet a January 2 deadline to disarm and surrender.


The Security Council reacted on January 8 to the lack of disarming by authorizing a joint operation by the UN’s 20,000-strong force MONUSCO and Congolese government troops. The UN council’s 15 member nations said unanimously that the FDLR rebels must leave eastern Congo “immediately.” The group, which includes former Hutu soldiers and militiamen blamed for the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, targeted civilians when the UN staged its last major offensive in eastern Congo in 2009.

Given a UN agency is highlighting the risk to civilians of a decision made by the foremost UN body, I wonder what back room discussions are happening.

In recent weeks, the Congo army has been engaged in active combat along the Burundi border against former Hutu rebels. Burundi is immediately south of Rwanda. I have not heard any reports further north concerning the Islamic ADF rebels or recent violence near Beni. The quiet seems strange.

At Panzi Hospital, the government has made some conciliatory noises but the taxation issue remains unresolved.