Since Laurent Nkunda’s capture in January by Rwandan military forces, the rebel leader has remained under house arrest in Rwanda, despite being wanted for war crimes in neighboring DR Congo. It is unclear whether Rwanda intends to extradite him to the Congo.
With the disintegration of Nkunda’s Tutsi rebel organization CNDP, the Congolese government struggled to incorporate at least 12,000 of its former rebels into the Congolese military. On March 23, the CNDP signed a peace treaty with the government, agreeing to become a political party in exchange for amnesty for its captured rebels. In May, the Congolese Parliament passed such a law granting amnesty for “acts of war.” With its ranks swollen by the rapid integration of former rebels, the Congolese army has come under recent criticism for attacking, burning, and looting villages, killing at least 19 civilians and raping more than 143 women since January.
As agreed, Rwandan forces withdrew from the Congo in late February, leaving the Congolese army to combat FDLR rebels who continue to kill and rape their way through eastern Congo. In May, the FDLR attacked a village in North Kivu, where they shot, hacked to death, or burnt alive over 60 civilians. Authorized by the Security Council in November 2008, an additional 3,000 UN troops still have yet to arrive.
According to Oxfam, the humanitarian situation in eastern Congo has only worsened since the launch of the joint military operation that was intended to bring a decisive end to the conflict. The UN believes that 800,000 people have been displaced since January.
The situation is not any better in northeast Congo, where the Lord’s Resistance Army, a small rebel group of no more than a thousand soldiers that had previously operated in Uganda, are terrorizing civilian populations. Since a botched operation against them last December, the LRA has killed at least 1,400 people and abducted nearly 2,000 people, mostly children.