Cablegate: Af Senior Advisor Shortley's Visit to Nyabiondo,

DE RUEHKI #1264/01 3121041
R 081041Z NOV 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: AF Senior Advisor Shortley's visit to Nyabiondo,
a Microcosm of North Kivu

1. (SBU) Summary. MONUC peacekeepers in the southwestern North Kivu
town of Nyabiondo told AF senior advisor Tim Shortly November 2 that
negative forces encircling the town, including FDLR, Mayi Mayi, and
National Council for the Defense of the People (CNDP) fighters, will
not be easily dislodged, even in an all-out military offensive. The
local population blames the international community for its plight,
including the inability to support its own institutions, and fears
that any attempt to forcibly evict negative forces will end in their
own destruction. Local leaders reject the so-called "FDLR Plan" put
forward by the GDRC, claim that they should be the arbiters for the
eventual return of Tutsi refugees to the area, and feel that Laurent
Nkunda and his CNDP forces are being pandered to. End summary.

2. (SBU) USG delegation (Senior Advisor to A/S AF Tim Shortley, Lt.
Col. Mark Ellington, AF/ Julie Chalfin, Kinshasa Emboffs Marc Trahan
and Greg Groth) traveled to Nyabiondo, Masisi Territory, on a MONUC
PKO INDBATT (India Battalion) helicopter November 2. Nyabiondo, in
North Kivu's Masisi territory, is approximately 100 kilometers (70
miles) northeast of Goma and is currently inaccessible by surface
transportation due to poor road conditions between it and Masisi,
the territorial capital. The delegation, joined by INDBATT Sake
commander Col. Chand Seroha and representatives of the UN Office for
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), World Food Program
(WFP), and the UN DDRRR program, received a briefing from INDBATT
Mobile Operations Perimeter (MOP) personnel, based in Nyabiondo.

3. (SBU) The local population is 65 percent Hunde ethnicity, 25
percent Hutu ethnicity, and the remaining 10 percent is a mix of
various ethnicities including Tutsis and Pygmies. The area of
Nyabiondo is surrounded by a mlange of negative forces, including
FDLR, Mayi Mayi, and a breakaway Mayi Mayi group known as PARECO.
The Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and Congolese National Police
(PNC) are also in and around Nyabiondo. CNDP armed forces (led by
General Laurent Nkunda) extend to a few kilometers east of Nyabiondo
from the Nkunda stronghold in Kilolirwe and Kichanga.

4. (SBU) INDBATT/Nyabiondo briefers indicated that FDLR troops
around Nyabiondo consist of a battalion made up four companies,
numbering perhaps 200 altogether. They said that the Mayi Mayi
forces had few weapons, the FDLR somewhat more, but still not a
weapon for each fighter. INDBATT said that there is evidence of
some collaboration between Mayi Mayi and FDLR personnel in the area,
as well as commercial trading between FDLR and CNDP troops at the
Nyabiondo market, where negative forces check their weapons at the
entrance and reclaim them after shopping.

FDLR Repatriation?

5. (SBU) INDBATT briefers said that total FDLR population in the
territory is approximately 50,000 and that some have expressed
interest in returning to Rwanda, but are afraid of arrest, despite
their claim that 60-70 percent of them were not involved in the
genocide. Some have apparently integrated locally in and around
Nyabiondo, marrying local women and raising children, but remain
armed. INDBATT said that even boys of 13, born in the DRC, have
been indoctrinated into the FDLR cause. INDBATT said that those
FDLR who turn themselves in for repatriation to Rwanda prefer to do
so with MONUC PKO, where they are fed, sheltered, and offered
protection and transport, rather than the UN DDRRR program, in which
they may spend a couple days "on the loose" before being taken
charge of and provided material support. (Note: the delegation was
told later by DDRRR personnel in Goma that since 2003, 10,000 FDLR
fighters and their families/dependents have been repatriated to
Rwanda through the DDRRR program. There are currently no DDRRR
"sensitizers" operating in the Nyabiondo area actively working to
convince the FDLR there to enter the program; UN's DDRRR program
relies instead on dropping leaflets and emitting radio publicity
about the repatriation program. End note.)

INDBATT: FDLR Forces Second Only to CNDP

6. (SBU) INDBATT believes that FDLR forces in the Nyabiondo, Masisi
territory would be difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge from
their positions in the hills. Their commanders are in communication
with each other and exert reasonable command and control over their
forces, which are widely dispersed and second only to CNDP forces in
fighting ability, in INDBATT's opinion. FARDC ranks third, followed
by Mayi Mayi forces. They noted that all negative forces, as well
as local FARDC and PNC personnel, collect taxes on the mineral ores,
mainly cassiterite (tin ore, currently valued at close to USD 10,000
per ton) emanating from Walikale, most of which is flown to Goma in
small planes but some of which is transported via roads when
passable. (Note. Sources estimate that 20 to 30 LET 410 aircraft,
each capable of carrying up to one and half tons of ore, take off
from Walikale and land in Goma each day. This trade could be worth
over a quarter million dollars/day. End note.)

KINSHASA 00001264 002 OF 003

International Community at Fault

7. (SBU) The USG delegation and UN agencies met next with local
authorities from Nyabiondo, including local government, traditional
chiefs, civil society representatives, and a PNC officer. They
complained about the security situation in Nyabiondo and outlying
areas, noting that both insecurity and poor road conditions have
prohibited trucks from arriving from Goma via Masisi for over one
month. The PNC officer compared the situation to HIV/AIDS, saying
that the insecurity and socioeconomic difficulties they were facing
were merely symptoms, like tuberculosis and opportunistic diseases,
but that the real problem ("the virus") was an "international
conspiracy" which had left the community powerless in the face of
depredation by the FDLR and the threat of attack by CNDP forces.
Another said that the international community had brought the FDLR
to their zone, and that the international community must find a way
to get them out.

Snake and Eggs?

8. (SBU) The officials felt that the GDRC, through the FARDC, had
only succeeded in moving the FDLR westward into their community,
which was now powerless to confront them. They feared that an
offensive launched against either the FDLR or CNDP forces would
prove disastrous for the local population due to their proximity to
the conflict, likening it to killing a snake preying on a nest of
chicken eggs. "You can chop off the snake's head, but you will
break some eggs in the effort, and we are the eggs," said one. They
also feared that brassage for the Congolese militias would fail,
since they did not believe that Laurent Nkunda would be forced to
participate, and that others would then return to attack Nkunda.
They said that they were tired of dialogues, which had no effect,
and that CNDP forces must be removed from the field somehow.

No Funds for Local Services

9. (SBU) Regarding domestic problems, the officials cited their
inability to fund local services, since they were unable to collect
their own taxes due to the depredations by the forces surrounding
them. They insisted that Nkunda and his troops were being handled
too gently, and that this was because without Nkunda, there would be
fewer jobs for the international community working the issue ("No
Nkunda, no jobs.") The officials complained that the central and
provincial governments in Kinshasa and Goma, respectively, were
taking revenues from the territory, often through "mining agents,"
in addition to those exacted by negative forces. To add insult to
injury, they were obliged to repair the road through their zone so
that trucks transporting FARDC soldiers in and those carrying
mineral ores out from Walikale to Goma could get through during most
of the year.

Tutsi Refugee Returns

10. (SBU) The Nyabiondo officials expressed concern over the return
of Congolese refugees, mainly Tutsis, from refugee camps in Rwanda.
They claimed that the decisions on where and how these returnees
could resettle in the area should be left up to local authorities,
not the central or provincial government. They said that they knew
well where these refugees had been prior to their exodus, and that
they could determine whose land was whose. They concluded that the
best way to handle refugee repatriation would be to allow pressure
on the Rwandan government to force the issue.

The "FDLR Plan"

11. (SBU) Regarding the GDRC's "FDLR Plan," which they appeared to
have some knowledge of, the officials again used the snake/eggs
metaphor and asked the rhetorical question "How do you easily disarm
someone who is holding a weapon?" They asked why the GDRC wanted to
send the FDLR further west in the DRC and "all over the country,"
noting that some had already integrated locally, while others wanted
to return to Rwanda but were either being physically prevented from
doing so or were afraid to go back. They ended their presentation
to the delegation by suggesting that the solution to the CNDP
problem would have to be found in collaboration with the Rwandan

12. (SBU) Comment: The INDBATT assessment of the situation around
Nyabiondo, plus the local population's fear of being caught in the
crossfire, lends weight to the message that there is no military
solution to this standoff. Distrust of the international community,
the GDRC, the FARDC, and all negative forces (especially the CNDP)

KINSHASA 00001264 003 OF 003

means that a way must be found to effect a simultaneous reduction in
saber-rattling and depredation, once a ceasefire and a disengagement
of those negative forces is achieved. Local communities need to see
the peace dividend that was promised after elections, and this
includes finding a way to give them back some power over their own
finances and the ability to improve local infrastructure. FDLR
repatriation and Congolese Tutsi refugee returns remain big question
marks, and will require much more work and preparation before they
can begin in earnest. The population of Nyabiondo and Masisi
territory must not join the ranks of the hundreds of thousands of
North Kivuans already caught up in conflict and displacement. End


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