Despite the recurrent accusations that Rwanda provides support to the Rebels, the BBC journalist did not find any form of help extended to the fighters.
During their stay, the journalists were struck by the hospitable recieption granted to them by the fighters whom they observed as well trained and strictly organised.
Below is an excerpt of the conversation Neil Brandvold had with a BBC Radio presenter. The original message is in audio format.
We are a team of three film makers and had been building contacts and confidence with different M23 commanders and Finally we got a go-ahead. Later we were able to access the rebel territory through Rutsuru where we interviewed Bertrand Bisimwa and Colonel Ernest kainan and were granted access to spend 10days inside M23 territory.
Not many Journalists have that open access
Not many. They were actually very open once we were let in there but I think it was just the process of putting this together that was difficult and building confidence.This was the first time they have granted such access to journalists.
So once you reached there what struck you most about the M23 rebel Movement?
Initially its a very tense situation. They were very open and welcoming to us. They were very welcoming to western Journalists and were very organised and are very well trained.
When you say welcoming, does that mean you were given a place to sleep and food to eat? Could you give us an idea of how that worked out for you.?
Yeah. We ate well- three meals a day. They took us to Rutsuru at government buildings they have turned into their base and we slept there. They also took us to the frontlines just North of Goma where we stayed for about four days.
What food were you eating?
Beans, goat meat, pasteur, rice and things like that.
The Journey must have been incredibly dangerous for you wasnt it?
It was nerve cracking especially crossing the boarder .We had to go through Uganda and were stopped by the boarder patrol who told us that ’you don’t wanna go there’. It’s a territory controlled by M23 and they will kill you. But once we got into DRC we got full escort from M23 fighters usually two to three trucks full of soldiers that escorted us around.
Because they are constantly fighting there are several rebel groups around so they provided big escort to ensure our safety as much as they could.
I see photos of you with pretty much younger fighters with rounds of ammunition around their neck. Were these child soldiers did they speak to you without fear?
The legal age is 16 years. And alot of those kids to me looked alot much younger than 16years. If you asked anyone, they all claim they were 16years or older. So I dont know if they have been coached to say that but alot of them looked to be very young.
One of the things said about M23 rebels is there is support from the Rwanda government and that’s how they managed to be so successful in their fightings and also support from the Uganda government . Did you observe anything to support that?
Alot of people claim they (M23 fighters) are from Rwanda but actually the fighters I talked to say they are congolese nationals and not from Rwanda.
What about military advisors. Did you any that might have been of Rwandan Origin?
No. Its was a pretty small organisation,there were no miltary advisors and if they were they would be congolese.