France said on Thursday it was “horrified” by the massacres in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), calling on “all armed groups to cease fighting immediately" and to engage in the disarmament process without delay.
” We are horrified,” Foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said in a statement, after a preliminary UN investigation accused the M23 rebel group of executing at least 131 civilians in the east of the country in late November.
“As demanded by the UN Security Council, all external support to the M23 must cease,” Ms. Legendre added. “These acts cannot go unpunished. We welcome the willingness of the Congolese authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice."
The UN investigation, based on testimonies and made public on Wednesday night by the UN mission in the DRC, Monusco, focused on events in the locality of Kishishe and the neighbouring village of Bambo.
The 131 civilians (102 men, 17 women and 12 children) were killed “during acts of reprisal against the civilian population,” Monusco said in a statement. “At least 22 women and five girls were raped."
France “takes note of the communiqué of 6 December in which the armed group says it is ready to withdraw from the territories it occupies," the French statement said. "We call on it to do so immediately and unconditionally.”
The M23 (March 23 Movement) is a former Tutsi-dominated rebel group that took up arms late last year and conquered large swaths of territory north of Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu region.