Rwanda's armed interventions in the affairs of its neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were the topic of a congressional hearing held Wednesday by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House panel that oversees Africa and international human rights.
"Six million people have lost their lives in the DRC as a result of recurring conflict. Far from resolving ethnic disputes, the interventions by Rwanda in the DRC have exacerbated tensions among the ethnic groups who live there," Smith said. "We hold this hearing today to begin the process of finding a way to address the factors that have caused Rwanda's armed intervention in hopes that the U.S. Government can offer a lasting solution to the long crisis in the DRC."
The hearing, entitled "Examining the Role of Rwanda in the DRC Insurgency," featured witnesses testifying before an open hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. The subcommittee examined Rwanda's hand in the DRC in light of the recent release this summer of a United Nations report confirming Rwanda's support of rebels who have ravaged eastern Congo in the provinces of North and South Kivu. In the aftermath of the 1994 genocide until the issuance of this report, the international community generally has declined to comment on Rwanda's interventions in the DRC.
"We need to better understand the devastation caused by these interventions and gauge how the United States can play a helpful role in bringing this crisis to an end," Smith said.
Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, United Methodist Church of North Katanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo, traveled to Washington to address the House panel.
"For two decades, Rwanda has been attacking the DR Congo, by fabricating all sorts of rebels and militia groups, changing one name to another," said Bishop Ntambo. "The Rwandan regime must stop attacking our country, the DR Congo and our people, especially women, children and young men who are victimized and inflicted [with] many kinds of debasement."
Also testifying were Mark Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group and Jason Stearns, Director, Usalama Project, Rift Valley Institute. (Click on names above about to read written testimony.)