The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has accused Rwanda of “blackmailing the international community by using refugees for political purposes”, according to a report by Africanews on 12 January 2023. The report states that more than 70,000 people have fled eastern DRC due to the ongoing violence in the region and Rwanda is unwilling to take in any more. According to the UN Factsheet dated 20 December 2022: “The number of displacements has reached 521,000 since fighting broke out between the Congolese army and the M23 armed group in Rutshuru Territory in March”.
World Watch Research analyst Yonas Dembele explains: “The relationship between Rwanda and DRC has been deteriorating ever since DRC’s armed forces accused Rwanda in June 2022 of sending troops across the border to train and lead M23 rebel forces (Reuters, 9 June 2022). Rwanda has always denied this and, when the USA supported DRC’s claim, went on to accuse the USA of exacerbating the crisis. While the blame game continues with no immediate solutions in sight, civilians in eastern DRC – many of them Christians – are suffering immensely from being displaced after attacks perpetrated by a variety of armed groups, including ADF and M23 rebels. Indeed, a report by Human Rights Watch published on 6 February 2023 highlights how M23 rebels in North Kivu province are leaving behind a trail of atrocities such as summary executions and forced recruitment of civilians.”