RUSIZI - 504 people were on Monday repatriated from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via Rusizi 1 border post in the Western Province.
According to Immigration officials at the frontier, 236 of these were from Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) while 268 are civilians who left the country following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
Those from FDLR include 51 men including two captains, 48 women and 137 children. Among the civilians are 52 men, 174 women and 42 children.
The civilians told The New Times that they have been living in the areas of Walikale, Masisi and Warungu in the north Kivu in DRC.
Corporal Joseph Dushimimana told The New Times that he has been trying to come back with his wife and children but the move was always blocked by top FDLR leaders.
These ex-combatants are returning as a result of the ongoing operation between Rwandan and Congolese armed forces which is aimed at flushing the FDLR out of the DRC, a country from which they have operated for the past 15 years.
Dushimimana also said that they had left a very large number in the jungles of the DRC who were struggling to come back to Rwanda.
“I am very pleased with security, peace and hospitality that I have received here in our country, it’s totally different from what we have been told by FDLR leaders in DRC and I’m going to do all possible to call upon my relatives and friends we left there,” said Jeannette Mukamwezi one of the returnees.
The group was mainly made up of residents of the former Gikongoro prefecture currently in Southern Province; others were residents of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri in the Western and Northern Provinces respectively.
The combatants were taken to Ntendezi Transit Camp in Nyamasheke District whereas the civilians were taken to Nyagatare Refugee Camp in Gihundwe Sector of Rusizi District.
According to security organs at the frontier, part of the group was repatriated by UNHCR while others reported themselves at the border.
Yesterday, while presenting the updates of the operation to Members of Parliament, officials in the Ministry of Defence said that many people were ready to be repatriated but the process was being hampered by the bureaucracy in the NGOs responsible for repatriating them.