The Minister of Information, Democratic in the Republic of Congo (DRC) Lambert Mende Omalanga, has explained that his government is committed to relocating ‘disarmed’ militia of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) over 180 miles away from the Rwandan border.
Reports early last month indicated that the government of the DRC planned the move in a bid to diminish the militia’s security threat to Rwanda.
About 30 FDLR fighters and 106 dependants were among the first to be moved from the Masisi region of North Kivu to Katanga province and later to Kisenge, in the district of Lualaba, near the border with Angola.
“It is the commitment of our government to relocate the FDLR elements willing to disarm while waiting for individual solutions. To relocate refugees more than 180 miles far from their country of origin is an obligation according to the Geneva Convention on Refugees,” Mende said in an e-mail to The New Times.
He stressed that the relocation is a matter that concerns the two countries, and not an internal DRC affair.
“It is also among the provisions of the Nairobi Agreement to which DRC and Rwanda are signatory. Therefore, it cannot be considered as a totally internal Congolese affair. The matter concerns both countries”.
The Congolese Minister emphasized that his country’s army continues with operations to rout the FDLR out of DRC.
Reports early this week indicated that another group of 263 FDLR elements were moving to Katanga, a mineral rich city located about 700 kilometres north west of Lubumbashi in Lualaba district.
A programme called the Ecumenical Programme for Peace, Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation (PAREC) that is headed by a Congolese Pastor – Ngoy Mulunda, is encouraging the insurgents to disarm before relocation.
The disarmament programme offers $50 per firearm surrendered, and officials claim that since its launch in March, over 6,400 weapons have been recovered.
The FDLR is a group of insurgents, largely made up of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and has been in eastern DRC for the past 15 years.