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New US travel warning for Congo singles out Rwandan presence

By Julian Pecquet - 07/26/12 02:07 PM ET

The State Department's latest travel warning for the Democratic Republic of Congo warns that Rwandan rebels are contributing to violence in the eastern part of the country, the latest sign of growing U.S. concern about the actions of a crucial ally.

The Obama administration announced over the weekend that it was suspending $200,000 in military aid to Rwanda because of United Nations accusations that the country is involved in the conflict in next-door Congo. And this week, the head of the U.S. Office of Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp, told England's Guardian newspaper that Rwandan President Paul Kagame risks an international criminal indictment for "aiding and abetting" crimes against humanity.

“Renewed violence amongst foreign and Congolese rebel groups present in the northern part of North Kivu and former Rwandan militants in the southern part of the province and throughout South Kivu pose a serious and significant risk to travelers in the region,” the new travel warning states.

Rwanda is accused of providing military support for an insurgent group called M23, which has seized swaths of territory in the eastern Congo. Kagame's forces drove extremists Hutus out of Rwanda after the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus and pursued them after they fled to Congo. He denies providing weapons or ammunition to the rebels and says the violence in eastern Congo is fueled by meddling from Westerners who don't understand the situation.

Here's the relevant paragraph: 

“In April 2012, members of a rebel group that previously had been integrated into the Congolese military mutinied and heavy fighting has been reported in Massisi and Ruthshuru territories as well as in Virunga National Park. In July 2012, members of this group captured several towns north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province. As a result, over 200 people have been killed and the number of internally displaced persons has risen to 1.7 million. Moreover, renewed violence amongst foreign and Congolese rebel groups present in the northern part of North Kivu and former Rwandan militants in the southern part of the province and throughout South Kivu pose a serious and significant risk to travelers in the region. This fighting underscores the persistent insecurity arising from activities of rebel and other armed groups operating in the Kivus, which contribute to the overall high risks and dangers associated with travel to eastern Congo. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa has strictly limited travel by official personnel to North Kivu. Travel to that region for Embassy personnel is permitted only under exceptional circumstances.”



Source:
http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/africa/240575-new-us-travel-warning-for-congo-singles-out-rwandan-presence-

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