Rwanda News Agency Grands Lacs Hebdo

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Dutch aid halted over UN accusations – reports

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Kigali: The Netherlands has ended its development aid to Rwanda in response to a UN report detailing the “direct support” that both Kigali and Kinshasa governments are giving to different rebel groups in eastern Congo, Dutch radio reported Thursday.

UN experts claim Rwandan Banks, military, companies and businessmen are aiding DRC dissident General Laurent Nkunda run his war machine, in a classified report to be discussed on Monday by the Security Council.  

Rebel factions have organized funding for their efforts in part by exploiting mines in the region for manpower and to siphon money into secret bank accounts, the experts said.  

Dutch Development Minister Bert Koenders is said to have expressed concern with the UN report's conclusions and has asked Rwanda for an explanation, according to Radio Netherlands – the country’s public broadcaster.

RNA has not been able to secure response from Rwanda.

Mr. Koenders informed the Rwandan authorities of his government's decision Thursday, saying Rwanda does not deserve budget support now because there is "strong evidence" that the country is supporting General Nkunda.

However, the decision does not affect Dutch humanitarian aid to the Rwandan population, Dutch media reported.

The Netherlands had planned to transfer 3 million euros (3.99 million U.S. dollars) to Rwanda this year and another 4 million euros (5.32 million U.S. dollars) next year.

Last month, debate arose in The Netherlands on the wisdom of providing Rwanda with developmental assistance surpassing more than 17 million Euros every year.

Different politicians from the Dutch parliament and academia exchanged bitter outbursts as to whether Rwanda deserves any engagement with The Netherlands considering allegations linking to the conflict in DRC.

But some including an EU parliamentarian Mr. Thijs Berman believe the authorities here are doing a good job.  

He also told the public broadcaster last month that because of the large amount of aid Rwanda has received over the past 15 years it has made an enormous amount of progress.

"The progress made in this country deserves considerable respect", he pointed out.    

Dutch Development Minister Mr. Koenders toured this region about two weeks ago – meeting President Paul Kagame in Kigali. He visited Goma, where he met local officials, aid workers and MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo) officials.

High on his agenda was the aid effort countering a conflict in eastern DRC that has left some 300,000 people displaced in the last few months.   

Peace negotiations between the Congolese government and the main rebel group in Kenya seem to have stalled. The UN envoy and mediator Olusegun Obasanjo is reported to be speaking separately to both sides.   

Meanwhile, Washington-based lobby group Human Rights Watch said today that at least 150 civilians were brutally killed last month, most of them by General Nkunda's rebels.

The majority of the victims were in the village of Kiwanja in the province of North Kivu. Human Rights Watch also severely criticised the United Nations peacekeeping troops, who were in the vicinity but failed to intervene.

 

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