The eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo remains plagued by dozens of foreign and national armed groups. Instability has increased since the mutiny by former members of the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple and the subsequent creation of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) earlier in 2012. The rebels expanded their control over Rutshuru territory with extensive foreign support in July 2012 and have recently taken advantage of an informal ceasefire to enhance alliances and command proxy operations elsewhere.
The Government of Rwanda continues to violate the arms embargo by providing direct military support to the M23 rebels, facilitating recruitment, encouraging and facilitating desertions from the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and providing arms, ammunition, intelligence and political advice. The de facto chain of command of M23 includes Gen. Bosco Ntaganda and culminates with the Minister of Defence of Rwanda, Gen. James Kabarebe. Following the publication of the addendum to its interim report (S/2012/348/Add.1), the Group met the Government of Rwanda and took into consideration its written response. The Group has, however, found no substantive element of its previous findings that it wishes to alter.
Senior officials of the Government of Uganda have also provided support to M23 in the form of direct troop reinforcements in Congolese territory, weapons deliveries, technical assistance, joint planning, political advice and facilitation of external relations. Units of the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces and the Rwandan Defence Forces jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July 2012 to take over the major towns of Rutshuru territory and the Congolese armed forces base of Rumangabo. Both Governments have also cooperated to support the creation and expansion of the political branch of M23 and have consistently advocated on behalf of the rebels. M23 and its allies include six sanctioned individuals, some of whom reside in or regularly travel to Rwanda and Uganda.
Taking advantage of a lull in combat on the official front lines, M23 has sought to build coalitions with other armed groups throughout the Kivus and in Ituri and Kasai Occidental. Col. Sultani Makenga emerged as the coordinator of the armed groups allied with M23. In August and September, he ordered Raïa Mutomboki to carry out brutal ethnically motivated attacks, burning more than 800 homes and killing hundreds of civilians from Congolese Hutu communities in Masisi territory, whose militias refused to ally themselves with M23.
The use and recruitment of child soldiers by armed groups, notably by M23, has increased. In particular, several M23 commanders with histories of child recruitment have overseen the enrolment and training of hundreds of young boys and girls. Furthermore, some M23 commanders have ordered the extrajudicial executions of dozens of recruits and prisoners of war.
The many attempts by M23 to forge a common front with ethnic Hema and Lendu armed groups in Ituri and the Banyamulenge community in South Kivu have encountered significant resistance. The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has sought to counter the efforts of M23 to expand its alliances by promoting integration processes with armed groups, notably in Ituri and in Masisi territory.
At historically low numbers, the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), although continuing to commit abuses against civilians, have become further isolated from external support and are focused on self-protection in the face of attacks by the Congolese armed forces and M23 allies. Junior FDLR officers have sought to ally themselves with the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo against M23, while some criminal networks within the Congolese armed forces continue to sell small amounts of ammunition to the rebels.
There is, however, no evidence of strategic cooperation between FDLR and the Government.
Among Burundian rebel groups, the Forces nationales de libération remain divided and reliant on local Congolese armed groups, while the Front national pour la révolution au Burundi has now transformed itself into the Front du peuple murundi and allied itself with M23 in South Kivu. The Ugandan-led Allied Democratic Forces have expanded their military capacity and cooperated with Al-Shabaab networks in East Africa.
The Congolese armed forces continue to be plagued by criminal networks generating revenue for senior officers through their control over natural resources and contraband, including the trafficking of ivory from armed groups. The land forces commander, Gen. Gabriel Amisi, oversees a network distributing hunting ammunition for poachers and armed groups, including Raïa Mutomboki. Disarmament and stockpile management efforts have also been undermined by the increased demand associated with the M23 rebellion as the market price for small arms has risen fourfold.
The requirement of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for mineral exporters to exercise due diligence in accordance with United Nations and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines has nearly halted all tin, tantalum and tungsten exports from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, apart from north Katanga where mineral tagging was introduced in 2011. Smuggling into both Burundi and Rwanda is on the rise. The credibility of the mineral tagging system in place in Rwanda is jeopardized by the laundering of Congolese minerals because tags are routinely sold by mining cooperatives. Several traders have contributed to financing M23 rebels using profits resulting from the smuggling of Congolese minerals into Rwanda.
While tin ore production has decreased in the Kivus, tantalum and tungsten ore production has been resilient to international traceability demands, given that those minerals are more easily smuggled. Rwandan exports of tantalum and tungsten have experienced a corresponding increase during 2012, while tin ore exports have decreased.
Overall price and production decreases have had negative socioeconomic consequences in some mining zones. New commercial opportunities have, however, been created as mining communities have adapted to other economic sectors. Security has improved in most of the major tin and tantalum mining areas, which has led to less conflict financing and increased oversight and monitoring by civil authorities and non-governmental organizations.
Armed groups, criminal networks within the Congolese armed forces and miners easily shift to gold mines where due diligence requirements have not affected trade. Nearly all gold from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is smuggled out of the country and channelled through a few major traders in Kampala and Bujumbura who ship out several tons per year, worth hundreds of millions of United States dollars. In the United Arab Emirates, most Congolese gold is smelted and sold to jewellers. The assets freeze imposed by the Security Council has not limited the operations of the previous owner of the sanctioned entity Machanga Ltd., who exports through other front companies and transfers large sums of money to suppliers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.