DRC: Humanitarian truce in the war in the east

DRC: Humanitarian truce in the war in the east

Announced Thursday by the United States, a “humanitarian truce” in the conflict opposing government forces to the M23 rebellion, supported by Rwanda, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, seemed to be observed on the ground, according to local sources.

“The situation is calm”cautiously declared an administrative official from the Masisi territory, like other inhabitants of the North Kivu province interviewed by AFP, notably in the Lubero territory, the scene of recent fighting.

“We pray to God that it remains so,” added the official.

In a statement from the White House National Security Council on Thursday, the United States said: “welcome the two-week humanitarian truce” starting on July 5, a truce which had not been publicly mentioned by anyone in the DRC at the time.

Since late 2021, the M23, supported by Rwandan army units, has seized large swathes of territory in North Kivu, almost completely surrounding the provincial capital, Goma. Last week, the rebels conquered new localities on the northern front of the conflict, causing new population displacements.

“The humanitarian situation in North Kivu is dire, with nearly 3 million internally displaced people”the White House stressed.

“The two-week humanitarian truce (…), which will continue until July 19, commits the parties to the conflict to silence their weapons, allow the voluntary return of displaced persons and provide humanitarian personnel with unhindered access to vulnerable populations,” she added.

This truce results, according to the same source, from steps taken last November by the head of American intelligence, Avril Haines, during a trip to the DRC and Rwanda.

“The governments of the DRC and Rwanda have expressed their support for this humanitarian truce,” according to the American press release.

In December, the United States had similarly announced a “ceasefire,” which lasted for about ten days. Intense fighting resumed just after the December 20 elections, won by outgoing President Félix Tshisekedi, in power in the DRC since 2019.

The European Union, as well as Belgium, also welcomed the announcement of the “humanitarian truce” on Friday.

“The EU welcomes the efforts made by the United States and warmly welcomes the commitment of the DRC and Rwanda, hoping that this humanitarian truce will lead to a permanent ceasefire,” she said in a statement.

The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) also welcomed this truce on X “to which the different parties have subscribed (…), with the commitment of the United States”.

“We welcome the measure, but we are simply asking for a definitive withdrawal of troops.” Rwandan and M23 forces, as well as legal proceedings against the leaders of the rebellion, Moïse Hangi, an activist with the citizen movement Lucha (Fight for Change), told AFP in Goma.

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