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Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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Africa

Rwanda

Regional and international actors continued to accuse Rwanda of complicity in security challenges faced by its neighbours. 

Govt firmly denied involvement with neighbouring rebel groups. Rwanda 4 May rejected U.S. and Congolese claims that it had, alongside M23 rebel group, attacked displacement camp in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), branding accusations “ridiculous” and “absurd”. Authorities also 12 May issued statement denying any connection or reason to be involved in series of grenade attacks in Burundian city of Bujumbura, urging Burundi to “address its internal issues”. Meanwhile, DRC Mine Minister 8 May called for international embargo on metal exports from Rwanda, alleging its support for rebel groups stealing natural resources.

In another important development. Army spokesperson Ronald Rwivanga 27 May announced govt had deployed additional 2,000 soldiers to assist Mozambique in combating resurgent attacks by Islamic State-linked insurgents in Cabo Delgado province, amid southern African military mission withdrawal (see Mozambique).

Africa

Rwanda

International diplomacy continued to push govt to seek solution to crisis in eastern DR Congo; tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa remained high.

International actors called for Rwanda to pursue diplomatic resolution. On sidelines of 30-year Rwandan genocide commemorations in capital Kigali, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa 6 April met with President Kagame amid strained ties over former’s contribution of troops to southern African bloc (SADC) mission in DR Congo (DRC); Ramaphosa next day said both leaders emphasised need for political solution over military action. Mauritanian President and AU Head Mohamed El Ghazouani held similar discussions with Kagame, seeking to facilitate dialogue and secure ceasefire in eastern DRC. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron 23 April called for dialogue between Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Félix Tshisekedi and urged respect for DRC “territorial integrity” during call with Rwandan president.

Tensions remained high over Kigali’s role in DRC. Kagame 8 April said Congolese M23 rebels only existed as they were “denied their rights as citizens” and those accusing Rwanda of supporting group should themselves be accused of “not supporting M23” due to “injustice” done to community. Belgian ambassador to Kinshasa Roxane de Bilderling 19 April argued DRC could lodge formal complaint with International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Rwanda; Rwandan govt rejected suggestions, saying instead “DRC should take Belgium to ICJ”. Meanwhileduring Tshisekedi’s official visit to France, Congolese president 29 April denounced “predatory and expansionist ambitions” of unnamed countries while Macron next day called on Kigali to end “support for M23 and withdraw its forces from Congolese territory”.

Africa

Rwanda

Authorities expressed concerns over military intervention of southern African regional body in eastern DR Congo (DRC).  

In letter to AU Chair, FM Biruta 3 March expressed reservations about AU support to southern African bloc (SADC) mission in DRC, alleging force’s collaboration with DRC forces and anti-Rwanda armed groups carried risk of exacerbating conflict; Biruta urged political process rather than military intervention; AU next day, however, endorsed SADC mission. Meanwhile, in 25 March interview, President Kagame addressed accusations of Rwandan military presence in eastern DRC, citing factors including anti-Kigali Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) as potential reasons for such presence, without directly acknowledging or denying existence of Rwandan troops in region. While stating readiness for dialogue over future of eastern DRC, Kagame criticised Congolese authorities and also South Africa (who contribute troops to SADC mission) for collaborating with FDLR. Earlier, Kagame 11 March visited Angolan capital Luanda to discuss DRC crisis amid Angolan diplomatic efforts (see DR Congo).

Africa

Rwanda

International actors hardened their stance against Rwanda’s actions in eastern DR Congo as M23 conflict escalated.

Criticism grew of Kigali’s backing of rebel group in DR Congo (DRC). Amid M23 rebel group’s advance on North Kivu regional capital in DRC (see DR Congo), U.S. state dept 17 Feb condemned M23 violence and urged Rwanda to withdraw soldiers and remove surface-to-air missile systems from eastern DRC; Rwanda’s foreign ministry next day rejected U.S. call, citing defensive measures against DRC’s perceived “dramatic military build-up”, and said U.S. statement “distorts” reality. France 20 Feb also expressed grave concern over security situation in North Kivu, urged Rwanda to cease support for M23 and withdraw from Congolese territory. In response, Rwanda’s govt next day pointed to France’s responsibility for longstanding conflict in eastern DRC.

Govt opposed UN support for southern African mission in DRC. Kigali 13 Feb objected to UN plan to provide logistical and operational support to southern African bloc (SADC) mission in eastern DRC, whose deployment started in Dec 2023, alleging it is aligned with anti-Rwanda groups, and warned of pre-emptive and defensive measures against perceived threats from DRC and Burundi.

Africa

Rwanda

Three-way tussle with Burundi and DR Congo intensified as Gitega closed border with northern neighbour amid escalating rhetoric, while Rwandan army shot Congolese soldier dead. 

Burundi closed border with Rwanda as both sides escalated rhetoric. Burundian govt 11 Jan announced suspending relations and closing all borders with Rwanda over Kigali’s alleged support for RED-Tabara rebels; Rwandan govt immediately labelled move “unfortunate decision” that violates principles of East African Community regional bloc, which 12 Jan called for “peaceful settlement” of dispute. Burundian President Ndayishimiye 21 Jan said Rwandans are “prisoners of bad leaders”. Kigali next day denounced “inflammatory allegations aimed at sowing division among Rwandans”, and President Kagame 23 Jan vowed to “fight” to protect Rwanda. Burundian govt same day accused Rwanda of recruiting Burundian refugees in Rwanda to join RED-Tabara, and late Jan reportedly increased number of soldiers and ruling party youth wing (Imbonerakure) policing border with Rwanda (see Burundi). 

Tensions with DR Congo led to deadly border incident. Army 16 Jan announced capturing two Congolese soldiers after they crossed into Rwandan territory near Rubavu town, and shooting another dead as he tries to open fire on Rwandan forces; Congolese army next day claimed trio had crossed border “inadvertently” and said it had referred to Regional Joint Verification Mechanism for repatriation of soldier’s body and release of other two. Congolese President Tshisekedi 30 Jan reiterated claims that M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda, referred to Kigali as “aggressor” which “occupies a portion of our territory” (see DR Congo).

Africa

Rwanda

Kinshasa’s rhetoric against Kigali reached new heights, while Burundi accused Kigali of supporting RED-Tabara rebel group.

Regional tensions remained elevated. Amid sustained offensive by Rwanda-backed M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo (see DR Congo), Congolese President Tshisekedi 8 Dec compared President Kagame to Hitler and his “expansionist aims”, and around 19 Dec threatened to declare war should Rwanda “persist in its aggression”. Renewed RED-Tabara rebel attacks in Burundi ratcheted up bilateral tensions after months of improvement. Burundi’s President Ndayishimiye 29 Dec accused Rwanda of funding and training rebel group, which Kigali immediately denied (see Burundi).

In another important development. Election commission 12 Dec scheduled presidential and parliamentary polls for 15-16 July 2024; Kagame expected to run for fourth term in office.

Africa

Rwanda

U.S. secured commitments from Kigali and Kinshasa to de-escalate tensions as Rwanda-backed M23 armed group made territorial gains in DR Congo.

U.S. said Kigali, Kinshasa agreed on de-escalation steps. U.S. govt 21 Nov said Intelligence Chief Avril Haines 19-20 Nov travelled to Rwanda and DR Congo, secured commitments from Kigali and Kinshasa to de-escalate tensions, although specific measures were not articulated publicly. Congolese army same day prohibited all soldiers, regardless of their ranks, from establishing or maintaining “any contact” with anti-Kigali Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda. Fighting in following days continued in North Kivu between M23 rebels and Congolese forces.

Kinshasa continued to accuse Kigali of incursions, support for M23 rebels. Earlier in month, DR Congo’s permanent representative at UN, Zénon Mukongo Ngay, 1 Nov said images captured by UN mission (MONUSCO) surveillance drones show columns of Rwandan soldiers crossing border to reinforce M23 rebel positions in Runyoni, Kibumba and Tshanzu localities in North Kivu province. Following request filed by Kinshasa in May, International Criminal Court 4 Nov confirmed it will conduct preliminary examination to “determine the advisability of opening a new investigation” into crimes committed by M23 and others in North Kivu since 2022.

Africa

Rwanda

Resurgence of large-scale hostilities involving M23 militia in eastern DR Congo fuelled inflammatory rhetoric between Kigali and Kinshasa, as UN highlighted risk of direct conflict.

As violence early Oct flared between M23 rebel group, made up primarily of ethnic Tutsi combatants, and coalition of armed groups aligned with Congolese govt (see DR Congo), North Kivu military governor 10 Oct blamed “massacre” of seven civilians, who were found dead same day near Rumangabo military base (40km north of North Kivu’s capital Goma), on M23 and Rwanda Defence Force “terrorists”. At Security Council meeting, UN special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, Huang Xia, 17 Oct said risk of “direct confrontation” between Rwanda and DR Congo is “very real”, citing “military build-up” by both countries, “absence of direct high-level dialogue”, and “persistence of hate speech” as worrying signs. Both countries in following days continued to trade blame for violence as direct clashes between M23 and Congolese govt forces resumed in North Kivu. Kigali 23 Oct said Rwandan citizen was injured along border by stray bullet originating from DR Congo, accused coalition of “Kinshasa-backed illegal armed groups” of responsibility; also said Kinshasa’s “ongoing support” for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda rebels and other armed groups “is escalating provocative actions along the Rwandan border”. Kinshasa 23-24 Oct released drone footage purportedly showing Rwandan army incursion into DR Congo to reinforce M23 positions in North Kivu, and said it had referred matter to joint verification mechanism set up as part of Luanda process.

Africa

Rwanda

Relations with DR Congo remained tense amid hostile rhetoric, President Kagame announced candidacy for 2024 election, and Washington scaled back military cooperation.

Kinshasa and Kigali continued to trade blame for M23-related instability. After Congolese President Tshisekedi at UN general assembly 20 Sept once again said M23 armed group was Kigali’s auxiliary, President Kagame same day refuted allegation and blamed DR Congo-based Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda for instability in Great Lakes region. Kagame 27 Sept appointed Gen James Kabarebe, recently retired from army and regularly questioned for his involvement in M23-related conflict, as minister for regional integration.

In other important developments. Kagame 19 Sept announced he would run for fourth term in 2024 election. French media outlet RFI 21 Sept reported U.S. restricted military cooperation with Rwanda under Child Status Protection Act due to Kigali’s support for M23 rebel group, which recruits child soldiers.

Africa

Rwanda

Washington sanctioned Rwandan and Congolese individuals for alleged role in eastern DR Congo (DRC) conflict; President Kagame reshuffled military positions.

U.S. sanctioned individuals for contributing to eastern DRC conflict. U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 15 Aug held phone call with Kagame to discuss security crisis involving Rwanda-backed M23 rebels in eastern DRC; Blinken reportedly renewed call for “diplomatic solution to the tensions” between Kinshasa and Kigali and “for each side to take measures to de-escalate the situation”. Meanwhile, U.S. treasury 24 Aug placed sanctions on six individuals for their alleged role in eastern DRC conflict, including one Rwandan and one Congolese senior army officers, one M23 deputy commander, and three Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda militia leaders.

Kagame announced major changes in security forces. Hours after coup in Gabon, Kagame 30 Aug retired 12 army generals, including old guard members, and dozens of other senior military officers; also promoted several young officers to rank of colonel and designated new generals to lead military divisions.

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