U.S. Accuses Rwanda and M23 of Deadly Attack on Goma Displacement Camp

Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State

The United States has strongly condemned a recent attack on a displacement camp in Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, accusing Rwandan forces and the M23 rebel group of perpetrating the assault. On Friday, at least nine people, including seven children, were killed at the Mugunga displacement camp in Goma.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s military and the M23 rebels have blamed each other for the attack, creating a tense blame game within the region. Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, issued a statement on Friday attributing the bomb attack to the Rwandan military and M23 bases.

Rwanda has vehemently denied these allegations. Yolande Makolo, Rwanda’s government spokesperson, responded on X (formerly Twitter), expressing disbelief at Miller’s accusations: “This is shameful, Matthew. How could you conclude such an unfounded accusation? The RDF could never target a displacement camp. Such atrocities are rather expected from the FDLR and Wazalendo, who are outlaws supported by FARDC.”

The M23-affiliated Alliance du Fleuve Congo (AFC) also accused the Kinshasa government of conducting the attack, alleging that government forces often retaliate against civilians following battlefield defeats. Lieutenant Colonel Guillaume Njike Kaiko, speaking for the DR Congo military in North Kivu, reiterated accusations against M23 and Rwanda for the attack, suggesting it was a reprisal for Congolese military assaults on Rwandan positions.

The U.S. State Department further highlighted that 33 people were injured in the attack. The statement emphasized the urgent need for all parties to respect human rights and adhere to international human rights obligations. “We are deeply concerned by the recent territorial expansion of Rwandan forces and M23 in Eastern DR Congo, which has displaced over 2.5 million people. We urge both sides to respect human dignity and engage in dialogue to de-escalate the situation,” said Miller.

In the wake of the attack, MONUSCO’s representative, Bintou Keita, condemned the assault on civilians and reiterated the warring parties’ duty to protect and preserve civilian lives at all times. Following the incident, President Felix Tshisekedi of Congo curtailed his European tour to return home, reassuring the Congolese diaspora in Belgium of his commitment to victory in this conflict and to safeguarding the nation’s territorial integrity.

This violent episode follows M23’s declaration of control over the strategic town of Rubaya, known for its coltan mines essential for manufacturing mobile phones and electric vehicle batteries. M23, which evolved from the earlier rebel group CNDP, claims to protect the Tutsi population in Eastern Congo from persecution and marginalization, allegations that have consistently been supported by Rwanda, according to UN experts.

Meanwhile, a military court in Goma has sentenced eight Congolese soldiers to death for desertion and betrayal amid ongoing conflict with the rebels.