Congo Siasa

The US blocks military aid to Rwanda

Few international news outlets picked this up, but it was an important decision. Yesterday, the US government decided not to grant a waiver to Rwanda for the use of child soldiers. Every year, the White House has to provide waivers to countries that the State Department reports as using child soldiers. This year, that report listed Rwanda as complicit in the recruitment of child soldiers for the M23. Still, the government could have provided a waiver––as it did in the case of four countries––but it chose not to.

This decision is symbolic, as it will probably only affect around $500,000 in training programs for the Rwandan army, but is nonetheless important. It can probably be interpreted as the first official indication in months––the UN Group of Experts report in July suggested that Rwandan support had declined––that members of the international community feel that Rwandan support to the M23 continues. The UN suggested as much in a closed door briefing to the Security Council in late August, but there has been little public pressure on Rwanda. (President Paul Kagame even shared a stage with Elie Wiesel in New York during the General Assembly and discussed health care with Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative).