Seventy seven Rwandans returned home yesterday after living as refugees in eastern DR Congo for more than 20 years.
Some said that they repatriated because of a high incidence of diseases, hunger and insecurity caused by the FDLR militia and several other bandits that operate in the eastern parts of the vast country.
The FDLR, made up of some of those responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, fled to DR Congo after they were defeated by the Rwanda Patriotic Front. It is from there that they continue to nurture their genocidal ideology, defying international calls to disarm.
“I am very happy that I have managed to return home after living a terrible life as a refugee. I never had hope of returning to my country because we had always been told lies that Rwanda was insecure and those who returned before us were killed upon arrival,” said Jean Bosco Musafiri, 25.
Musafiri said whenever he asked his parents why they lived as refugees, he was only told that it was due to insecurity back home.
When he became of age and managed to get the right information, his family and members of FDLR often blocked his attempts to return home by holding him captive.
It was only until recently when, together with others, he sought help from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), that he was repatriated.
“We defied odds and decided to return, we worked with UNHCR and they supported us until we managed to arrive here. I am glad to be back to my country,” said Musafiri who said was told he hails from Ngororero District.
“We are happy to have escaped bad conditions we endured for 20 years. We were fed on lies and never told anything good about Rwanda, despite various campaigns on radio and by non-governmental organization telling us to return home,” said 70-year-old Nyiramagambo.
FDLR still active
The returnees said that the FDLR was still active and causing insecurity despite international calls asking the government of DR Congo to disarm the militia. Fidel Ntamuhanga, 32, a former FDRL fighter, said he quit because he no longer believed in the ideological orientation of the group that aims at exterminating Tutsis.
Ntamuhanga added that there was nothing to show that authorities in DR Congo would soon disarm and demobilize FDLR fighters as the militias continue going about their business in the Virunga area.
Straton Kamanzi, the director of Nkamira Transit Centre for returnees, said the group will leave on Monday with basic necessities enough to see them through for at least three months as they reintegrate in their respective communities.