DRC official warns against rushed repatriation
RUBAVU–The Governor of DRC’s North Kivu Province, Julien Kahongya Paluku, assured Congolese refugees in Rwanda that his government would engage all partners to provide security for all the Congolese.
He was speaking yesterday during his visit to Nkamira Transit Camp in Rubavu district, where nearly 6,000 Congolese refugees are sheltered after fleeing their country in a space of one week.
The refugees are fleeing renewed clashes between the Congolese armed forces and mutinous soldiers, in the volatile eastern part of the country.
Paluku told his compatriots that he would tour all affected areas to assess the security situation there but cautioned them not to rush to repatriate since the homes were still insecure.
“As a government we cannot encourage you to come back into war...however, we will discuss with all partners to ensure that security returns so that you can return to your homes,” he told the gathering.
“Our objective is to ensure that even the Congolese who are in different camps in Rwanda return home. We don’t want any Congolese to suffer in refugee camps,” he said.
Those that arrived in the country recently add to the over 50,000 Congolese refugees who have been in Rwanda for over 15 years having fled insurgencies in the same region.
However, some of the refugees expressed frustration to the visiting officials, saying that little had been done over the years to restore security in eastern DRC.
Others accused some members of the Congolese armed forces of looting their property.
Insecurity in this part of the region has mainly been attributed to the continued existence of elements of the Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR, who are responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, as well as other armed groups.
The Interahamwe and ex-FAR now operate under the name, Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a blacklisted terrorist group.
Addressing the refugees, the Governor of Rwanda’s Western Province, Celestin Kabahizi, told them that government would continue to support them.
“We are involved in peace keeping operations in different countries; we can’t fail to help our neighbours. We are also in talks with the DRC government to see to it that security returns to the region,” he said.
The camp has been expanded to accommodate more refugees, who were still crossing into Rwanda.
Amidst the influx of Congolese refugees, senior defence, military and security chiefs from Rwanda and DRC met at least twice last week to discuss how the renewed clashes can be stopped.
Contact email: eric.kabeera[at]newtimes.co.rw