The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have vowed to augment efforts to rid the Great Lakes region of rebels and rebel activities. The two nations will continue the process of neutralization and gradual eradication of armed groups and remaining negative forces which still plunder East/Central Africa.
Pivotal to the unrest of the Great Lakes has been DR Congo where the continuing presence of illegal armed groups has been aggravated by the lack of state authority throughout much of the east in a backdrop of an ineffective and abusive DRC military (FARDC) and defective judicial and penal systems.
Experts believe that the cycle of impunity in the place of liability remains a serious concern, as sexual and gender-based violence continues to be problematic while the illegal exploitation of natural resources continues to fund the conflict.
Regional instability in the Great Lakes is down to civil wars, genocide, and rebel activities which have caused widespread displacements, causing over 1.4 million children to be displaced — according to aid group World Vision, — in five countries including Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, northern Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Half of those children are victims of sexual exploitation.
And despite each individual country in the Great Lakes region having its unique challenges, events in one country invariably affect the others, and often the wider region. A fact that has seen dozens of senior officials from the Africa Bureau and the Department of State traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in attempts to restore peace to the region.
Notwithstanding the significant amounts the international community spends on diplomatic time and attention whilst working on the issues associated with the Great Lakes, observers want more to be done and insist that there is a need to put conflict resolution, reconciliation, and peace efforts at the forefront.
But Congolese Defence Minister Charles Mwando Nsimba and Rwandan counterpart General James Kabarebe say progress is being made to eliminate rebel activities in the region following last May’s agreement by the Great Lakes countries to implement a joint operation against the pervasive Lord’s Resistance Army rebels.
DR Congo and Rwanda had fallen out when in 1998; Rwandan troops marched into DR Congo to hunt Hutu rebels. Nonetheless, the two nations renewed ties in 2009 and joined forces to rid the Great lakes region of rebel militias.