Public Statement on the UN Group of Experts Report which confirmed Uganda’s support to M23 rebels in DRCongo

Statement on the publication of the United Nations Group of Experts Report on Uganda’s support to M23 backed by Rwanda

The current humanitarian crisis caused by M23, if the United Nations had acted in 2019 where we alerted, this could not have happened

We have learnt from Radio France International (RFI) on this Monday July 8th, 2024 about the report of the United Nations Group of Experts which confirmed what we knew since 2019 on Uganda involvement in the war in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo mainly in North Kivu.

We are pleased that the UN Group of Experts have confirmed what we denounced since 2019, much as this has delayed but we provided necessary information about recruitment of Congolese refugees in Uganda mainly in Nakivale, Rwamwanja, KyakaII and Kyangwali refugee settlements, some among them are visible in areas that are controlled by M23/RDF and are easily recognized by other Congolese who knew them before in Uganda refugee camps. We only regret that this confirmation took so long in order to be made public and yet it was there. This delay has severe consequences on both Congolese population in North Kivu and on Congolese refugees in camps in Uganda.

As Uganda embarked on recruiting Congolese refugees for military operations, active refugee human rights defenders based in Uganda who documented these violations were arrested, detained, threatened and faced all forms of intimidations by Uganda security services in total silence of UNHCR, Diplomatic Missions and Human Rights Organizations, which forced many among these refugee human rights defenders to leave Uganda towards either Kenya or went back to DRC.

As this happened, we observed the move to weaken UNHCR by bringing in staffs who could not say anything or even engage Ugandan authorities and at the same time we observed the raise of influence of UNHCR local staff officers who are Ugandans suspected to be linked to the regime, who become so much influential in decision-making about the fate of refugees. And these Ugandans local staffs were engaged in blackmailing and blacklisting campaigns against vocal refugee human rights defenders.

At the same time we observed some changes in some Diplomatic Missions in Uganda especially at the European Union Mission to Uganda by bringing in Diplomats who were not so much critical to Uganda and who discouraged those who intended to documents information on the activities of M23 rebel group in Uganda, and the same time transferring or inciting those who were opposed to Uganda manoeuvre to leave Uganda towards other countries.

The few refugee human rights defenders who remained in Uganda are up to now are living in fear and highly controlled, they cannot do anything and face intimidations every single day, even their efforts to seek protection from UNHCR have been in vain, on contrary UNHCR Uganda has offered resettlement to members of M23 who were relocated to various countries were they are active, and this was done in the name of protection. UNHCR Uganda protects the perpetrator and leaves aside the victim,

Up to now there is still a big gap in order to ensure that refugee human rights defenders enjoy protection and solidarity from other human rights defenders, as no organization seems to clearly claim the mandate to extend services to refugee human rights defenders in Uganda.

While we appreciate the great work of the United Nations Group of Expert Report, we call upon human rights defenders and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders to put a particular attention on the situation of refugee human rights defenders in Uganda and offer them the necessary support they need currently, by putting a place a communication channel in which active refugee human rights defenders in difficult situation can easily contact them.

From this report, we expects the United Nations to impose humanitarian sanctions to Uganda, all donors to freeze the relief aid which is granted to Uganda in the name of helping refugees and to create a pathway for Congolese refugees to use Uganda only for a six months transit.


Kulihoshi Musikami Pecos

Provincial Coordinator

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