Congolese Rebels Fail to Comply with Surrender Deadline

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In short
A six-month grace period for the unconditional surrender of the armed group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) expired on Friday. The grace period was granted by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo accused of human rights abuses have failed to comply with a deadline to disarm and surrender, the UN Mission in DRC - Monusco has confirmed.

A six-month grace period for the unconditional surrender of the armed group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) expired on Friday. The grace period was granted by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

However, instead of the planned surrender, the group continued to recruit combatants and to commit human rights abuses against innocent people in the east of the country.

"The FDLR has used this six-month grace period to continue to commit human rights abuses against innocent people in Eastern DRC, recruit combatants, and champion its illegitimate political agenda," International envoys observed in a joint statement.

In the statement, two senior UN officials in the region said that by failing to fully comply with the deadline, the FDLR had left the international community with no other choice than to pursue a military option  against those within the armed group that are unwilling to voluntarily disarm.

"Ending the threat of the FDLR is not just a DRC responsibility; it is a regional and international responsibility. We all have a deep commitment to ensuring accountability for those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide," UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Said Djinnit stated.

The Envoys emphasized to FDLR combatants and their dependents that, at any point, they can choose a peaceful path by entering into the existing DDR/RR program, which continues to successfully repatriate former FDLR to Rwanda.

Leaders and members of the FDLR were among the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. However, several thousand ex-FDLR combatants have safely and successfully returned to Rwanda over the years.