The U.N. Security Council condemned on Friday a mutiny of troops in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and called on neighboring countries to prevent the armed groups in North Kivu province from receiving outside support.
The troubled province of North Kivu has been swept by waves of violence since late March, after hundreds of former rebels defected from the army in support of a renegade general, Bosco Ntaganda.
The mutiny risks dragging eastern Congo back into war and damaging fragile relations with neighboring Rwanda, which has repeatedly denied allegations that the rebels, known as M23, are receiving cross-border support.
In a statement, the Security Council “called upon all the countries in the region to actively cooperate with the Congolese authorities in demobilizing the M23 and all other armed groups, and preventing them from receiving outside support in contravention of the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions regime.
“The council urged the full investigation of credible reports of outside support to the armed groups,” it said.
The 15-member council also expressed strong concern about the deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation. The United Nations estimates the fighting has forced more than 200,000 people to flee their homes since April.
It “also strongly condemned the killing and abuse of civilians, mostly women and children, by armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
“They further condemned all acts of sexual violence, calling for all perpetrators to be brought to justice,” it said.
The renewed fighting in the North Kivu province was sparked by President Joseph Kabila’s announcement that he planned to arrest Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
Ntaganda, a former rebel, was integrated into the army along with other insurgents as part of a 2009 peace deal.
The ICC has sought his arrest since 2006 on charges of conscripting child soldiers in his rebel militia, and it announced new charges in May, including murder, ethnic persecution and rape.