One hundred twenty Rwandans comprising of 52 families returned home on Friday from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they had lived for nearly 20 years as refugees.
They were facilitated to cross the border by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Rwanda Government officials.
Like others repatriated earlier, the returnees said that they were tired of refugee life characterised by hunger and harassment by Congolese militia, Raia Mutomboki, that targets Kinyarwanda speaking people.
“For all the years I have been a refugee in DRC, wars have been endless. Hunger and disease killed many people--we lived in poverty all those years. I am pleased to be home in Rwanda and hope life will change positively,” said Alphonsine Uwamahoro, one of the returnees.
“Some people are still reluctant to return but I hope they will decide to do so as Raia Mutomboki is hunting Rwandans and kill whoever speaks Kinyarwanda”.
Habimana Jean D’Amour echoed similar concerns adding that he was lucky to be in Rwanda as other people of his age had been recruited or conscripted into FDLR, a militia group made up of remnants of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“I returned home because as a young person, I have been being targeted. They wanted me to join the militia group and I refused. I was risking being killed, I am really lucky to be back in Rwanda and encourage others to do so,” he said.
According to Straton Kamanzi, the Manager of Nkamira Transit Centre, returnees who have families nearby immediately returned to their villages while those whose homes are far will be facilitated to return there soon.
Before they go home, returnees are given basic materials such as food, enough to feed them for at least three months as they resettle. According to Kamanzi, 361 Rwandans returned home from DRC this month.