The United States has placed Rwanda on the CSPA list of countries that use child soldiers and has decided to restrict military cooperation with Kigali. Washington attributes this decision to Rwanda’s support for the armed group M23.
Rwanda is the 19th country added to this list by Washington. The list is called CSPA, which stands for the Child Soldier Prevention Act, a law that restricts military cooperation with the United States. In 2013, the United States had already suspended its military aid to Rwanda under this law.
According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State contacted by RFI, this blacklist aims to “hold countries accountable for which we have credible information indicating that they are recruiting and using child soldiers, either in their government forces or in armed groups they support.”
Kigali falls into the latter category. If Rwanda was added to the CSPA list in 2023, continues this U.S. official, it is because the “Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) provided support to the M23, an armed group that recruited and used child soldiers.”
These accusations have already been confirmed by several UN reports, although Kigali has always denied supporting this armed group present in North Kivu. According to UNICEF in 2022, more than 17,500 children had been released from armed groups since 2017, but thousands were still involved, mainly in combat zones in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. The United States will, therefore, restrict their military aid to Rwanda, as well as arms and equipment sales, starting from October 1st.
Regarding the situation in the DRC, President Tshisekedi has argued that accelerating the withdrawal of MONUSCO has become “an urgent necessity to ease tensions” and once again criticized the M23 and Rwanda.