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From: "IRIN" <he...@irinnews.org>
Date: 18 Oct 2016 09:03
Subject: Congo’s South Sudan rebel problem ...
To: "ElisabethJanaina" <elisabethjana...@gmail.com>

Today's humanitarian news and analysis

*Online version
Congo’s South Sudan rebel problem

The last thing eastern Congo needs is more armed groups, so the arrival of
hundreds of South Sudanese rebels in the violence-prone region is cause for

The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known by
the acronym MONUSCO, says it registered 755 SPLA-IO fighters who crossed
into the Democratic Republic of the Congo in July, following clashes in the
South Sudanese capital, Juba.

The men, loyal to former vice president Riek Machar
were on the losing side of fighting with the soldiers of President Salva
Kiir. They escaped with Machar into Garamba, a national park that stretches
across a huge swathe of northeastern Congo, where they were rescued by
Unwelcome guests

The violence in Juba effectively killed a painfully negotiated peace
agreement between Kiir and Machar. The South Sudanese fighters have now
joined a list of foreign rebel groups that eastern Congo is unwilling to
host but struggling to remove.

They include the Rwandan FDLR, the Burundian FNL, and two Ugandan exports,
the ADF and the LRA. These groups, along with equally violent homegrown
militia, have terrorised the local population for decades.

MONUSCO has responded to the growing public concern by pointing out their
SPLA-IO rescue mission was on humanitarian grounds, and at the request of
the Congolese government.

The peacekeeping mission said it handed over 117 South Sudanese to the
Congolese authorities, and cantoned the rest at three of its bases in
eastern DRC, where they were given food and medical assistance. Security is
tight at the bases, and MONUSCO is doing its best to downplay any security

[image: Congolese civilians carry their belongings as they escape the
recent fighting between Congolese government forces and rebels close to
Rutshuru in North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo on
20 May 2012]
Siegfried Modola/IRIN
Still suffering - IDPs in North Kivu

Just how destabalising the rebel presence has become was underlined by a
call by an SPLA-IO spokesman for the return of the men to areas across the
border he says are controlled by the rebel group.
Bad memories

Although MONUSCO says every SPLA-IO fighter was disarmed before leaving
Garamba, that assurance has done little to ease public anxiety in eastern
Congo, a region where weapons are easily obtainable.

There is a growing clamour from civil society groups for the resettlement
of Machar’s men outside of the DRC – especially following the former vice
president’s announcement from exile in Khartoum last month that he would
continue his armed struggle.

“Like the South Sudanese fighters, the FDLR… also entered Congo with their
weapons, under the cover of humanitarian operations,” said Jean-Paul Lumbu
Lumbu, a leading North-Kivu lawyer.

“After having benefited from the legendary hospitality of the Congolese
people, these FDLR rebels are now pillaging, raping, and killing poor

Professor Nissé Mughendi, a lecturer in international relations at the
Catholic University of Graben, in Butembo, told IRIN the cantonment of
SPLA-IO combatants represents a threat to the entire Great Lakes region.

“Remember that Congo’s neighbours have always used the presence of their
rebels in Congo as the pretext for military intervention,” he said.

“Therefore, the presence of South Sudanese fighters on Congolese soil only
messes up relations between Congo and their country of origin, South Sudan,
and its allies.”

In a memorandum to the government, a group of roughly 30 leading local
politicians, lawyers, doctors, business people, and religious leaders
called for their resettlement in any other African country.

“The coalition fears that the excuse of the right of pursuit presented by
Rwanda against the FDLR rebels to justify repeated incursions into the DRC,
and eventually of Uganda against the ADF rebels, could one day be used by
the South Sudanese government against the rebels [now cantoned in Congo],”
the memorandum said.

[image: A Congolese woman and her child walk past a UN peacekeepers’ base
near Bunagana, eastern DRC (May 2012)]
Siegfried Modola/IRIN
Can MONUSCO keep people safe?

Mughendi believes the Congolese authorities blundered in accepting a new
group of foreign rebels on its soil. “You need to first resolve the
problems of other foreign armed groups before creating more,” he said.

Under public pressure, the government has given a frustrated MONUSCO an
ultimatum to resettle the South Sudanese, but hasn’t named a firm deadline.

It’s unclear if any of the rebels have sought asylum, which would
complicate the government’s room for manoeuvre. The threat of their
“expulsion” has nevertheless been welcomed by Juba.

“It’s self-evident that they ought to leave DRC. But the solution ought not
to come exclusively from MONUSCO,” said UN peacekeepers’ spokesman Félix

“It most also involve the DRC, South Sudan, the countries of the wider
region, and international organisations like the African Union and the
United Nations,” he noted.

Mughendi is glad the government is responding “to the pressure from the
people of North-Kivu” and setting demands.

But, he added, it may be too late for any effective action to be taken in
the short term.

“The SPLA-IO fighters are already on Congolese soil, and their repatriation
is now going to depend on the interests of international actors,” said
Mughendi. “They’ll need to find a state willing to accept them.”

If the men have not yet renounced their loyalty to Machar, that could well
take some searching.


*TOP PHOTO: Victorious SPLA government soldiers in Malakal, by Albert
González Farran*
Congo’s South Sudan rebel problem Government soliders in Malakal
Sengenya <http:///authors/claude-sengenya> Analysis <http:///analysis>
Migration <http:///migration> Conflict <http:///conflict> Politics and
Economics <http:///politics-and-economics> BUTEMBO
<http:///publication-location/butembo> NORTH KIVU
<http:///publication-location/north-kivu> IRIN <http:///byline/irin> Africa
<http:///africa> DRC <http:///afrique/afrique-de-lest/drc> South Sudan

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