UN Report Context

III. Context of the combat and of actors present in the area
8. For years, the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu have experienced cycles of violence
and armed conflict centred on the huge mineral wealth and fertile land of this part of eastern
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Weak state institutions, including the national
army, police and justice institutions; persistent impunity; and the interference of external
actors3 have undermined efforts to restore security in that region. The security situation in
North Kivu and South Kivu provinces has deteriorated since April 2012, concomitant with
the emergence of new armed groups, including the M23, and the resurgence of activities of
older ones such as the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), and the Raïa
9. The M23 was formed on 6 May 2012, when former rebels from the Congrès national pour
la défense du peuple (CNDP), led by General Bosco Ntaganda, mutinied from the national
army which they had integrated in 2009. The group’s founders cited the supposed failure of
the agreements of 23 March 2009 according to which some elements of the CNDP
integrating into the national army were to be given key military positions. M23 leaders
consider that these engagements were not respected referring to unpaid wages and poor
living conditions of integrated soldiers and alleging the killing of former CNDP soldiers in
Dungu, Oriental Province. Tensions also arose as, during the period of integration, the
government attempted to deploy former CNDP officers outside of the provinces of North
Kivu and South Kivu and dismantle parallel chains of command – residual of the CNDP
hierarchy – within the army.

10. A number of senior officers in the M23 are allegedly responsible for gross human rights
violations, going back, in many cases, for years. For example, Bosco Ntaganda, a senior
M23 commander indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), including for the
enlistment, conscription and use of children while commander of the Forces patriotiques
pour la libération du Congo (FPLC) rebel group in Ituri district, Orientale province, in 2002
and 2003, handed himself over to the United States Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, on 18
March 2013, where he requested a transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Sultani Makenga, another senior M23 commander, has been implicated in the recruitment
and use of child soldiers, and is believed to be responsible for the Kiwanja massacre of 4-5
November 2008, when CNDP troops executed at least 67 civilians (mainly young men) in
Kiwanja, North Kivu. 4
11. The FARDC also has a poor human rights record and its soldiers have for years been
responsible for many gross human rights violations. Poor discipline of soldiers and officers
alike stems in part from the repeated integration of former rebels into the national army
without formal training, or vetting mechanisms to ensure accountability. The FARDC lacks
basic equipment and logistics, soldiers are poorly and irregularly paid, while allegations of
corruption, particularly among senior officers, are rampant.
12. Combat between the mutineers and FARDC began in April 2012 in Masisi territory and, on
6 July 2012, the M23 seized the town of Bunagana, Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province.
Two weeks later, the M23 took the towns of Rutshuru and Kiwanja, Rutshuru territory,
some 70 km from Goma. After a lull, fighting broke out again on 15 November 2012 in
areas to the north of Goma. Following five days of combat, the M23 seized the city of Goma
on 20 November 2012, and the town of Sake on 22 November 2012.
13. The FARDC units which were engaged in fighting with the M23 in Kibumba and Munigi,
north of Goma, from 15 November 2012 were the 804 and 810 regiments and 391 and 41
battalions from the 8th Military Region (North Kivu) and the 10062 Battalion from the 10th
Military Region (South Kivu) which was sent as reinforcement. These units retreated to
Sake on 18 November 2012. Soldiers of the 802 regiment and the Republican Guard were
deployed to defend Goma airport and held their positions until 19 November 2012. At the
same time, the 41 and 391 battalions under the operational command of the 8th Military
Region were sent to Minova, in South Kivu province, in order to establish control in case
the M23 attacked from Masisi territory. On 20 November 2012, soldiers of FARDC 802 and
804 regiments were engaged in fighting in the western Ndosho area of Goma. Following the
fall of Sake to the M23 on 22 November 2012, about 6,000 to 8,000 FARDC soldiers, with
dependents, retreated towards Bweremana, Masisi territory, North Kivu province, and
Minova, South Kivu province, where the operational centre of the 8th Military Region was
subsequently installed. FARDC units – 41 battalion, 391 battalion and 802 regiment –
returned to Sake on 1 December 2012. By mid-December 2012, most units of the 8th
Military Region had left Minova and surrounding villages.