To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that during the Kimia II operation in North Kivu 7,000 women have been raped, 900,000 people have been forced from their homes and 6,000 homes have been burnt down; and what representations they have made to the Governments of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda about pursuing political initiatives and a sustained peace process over further military offensives, such as Operation Amani Leo. [HL1151]
The Government agree that significant human rights abuses were committed during Operation Kimia II, although precise numbers are very difficult to verify in an area such as Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We regularly raise the issue of civilian protection with the Government of DRC, and were instrumental in the renewal of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the DRC (MONUC) mandate, with its sharper focus on protection of civilians. We fully support the decision by MONUC to withdraw support from the Congolese military (FARDC) units which commit serious human rights abuses, and continue to press the Government of DRC to take action against any members of the DRC armed forces who commit such abuses.
We continue to promote a peaceful resolution to the conflict, for example by supporting the voluntary disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda combatants, which has been successful in encouraging some of these combatants to lay down their arms.
We agree that long-term peace in DRC depends on good relations between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda. There are signs of improvements in these relations and DRC made a welcome exchange of ambassadors with Rwanda in 2008 and Uganda in early 2009. Through our ambassador in Kinshasa, and High Commissioners in Kigali and Kampala we continue to support co-operation between the states.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will continue to review whether to appoint a special envoy for the African Great Lakes region to report on cross-border human rights issues, including ethnic tensions and cross-border military activity. [HL1152]
At this point in time, we are content that we have sufficient coverage and leverage in the region to pursue our objectives of improving conflict situations and the quality of governance throughout Africa. This has been provided through the work of our posts in the region and by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.