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UNITED NATIONS, United States: The United States warned Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo at the UN on Tuesday that they “must walk back from the brink of war,” as tensions rise between the neighbors.
Kinshasa, the United Nations and Western countries say Rwanda is supporting a rebel group active in eastern DRC in a bid to control vast mineral resources in the region, an allegation Kigali denies.
After several months of relative calm, intense fighting resumed last month around the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
“Parties to the conflict and regional actors should immediately resume (peace) processes — diplomatic efforts, not military conflict, are the only path for a negotiated solution and a sustainable peace,” said Robert Wood, an American envoy to the UN, at an emergency meeting concerning the DRC.
Kigali “must also withdraw Rwandan forces from Congolese territory and immediately remove any and all of its surface to air missile systems, which credible reporting indicates they’ve been responsible for intentionally firing on the aerial assets of MONUSCO,” the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC, Wood added.
After years of dormancy, the M23 (March 23 Movement) took up arms again in late 2021 and has since seized vast swathes of North Kivu province.
Since early February, Goma, which stands between Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border, has been practically cut off from the country’s interior.
Demonstrators rallied in Goma on Monday in protest at what they said was inaction by the international community in the face of the swirling violence.
The DRC’s military is supported by myriad local armed groups, two foreign private military companies and the presence of UN peacekeepers and troops from the Southern African Development Community.
Rwanda warned against the “externalization” of the conflict into Rwanda.
“The recent escalation of the conflict in eastern DRC comes in the context of… public declarations by the presidents of DRC and Burundi who support regime change in Rwanda and heightened ethnic tension in the region,” said Rwanda’s envoy to the UN Ernest Rwamucyo.
The head of MONUSCO in DRC, Bintou Keita, warned about the possible spread of the conflict, as well as the dire humanitarian situation on the ground.
On Tuesday the UN called for $2.6 billion in aid to “provide live-saving assistance and protection to 8.7 million people,” according to its humanitarian response plan for the year.
“More than 25 million people are food-insecure, while acute malnutrition affects more than 8 million people, mainly children under the age of five,” the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement.

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