FDLR hostages should be set free

58 Rwandans, mostly former fighters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group, Thursday, arrived in Rwanda after deciding to lay down arms and return to their motherland. They returned with their family members, including young children.

58 Rwandans, mostly former fighters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebel group, Thursday, arrived in Rwanda after deciding to lay down arms and return to their motherland. They returned with their family members, including young children.

Their decision to abandon the jungle life in the eastern DR Congo is a much welcome move which the rest of the FDLR members and other Rwandan dissidents out there should emulate.

The sight of school-age children among the returning former combatants is a testament that some of the FDLR members had been coerced into the rebel activities.

They will now receive the education they deserve. Some had never been to their homeland and were evidently excited at the open hands with which they were received.

A number of FLDR fighters were recruited by manipulation and lack of sufficient information about the truth back home.

However, thanks to the revived diplomatic relations between Rwanda and DR Congo, various institutions have been able to reach more FDLR combatants and provide them with Rwanda’s true picture, ultimately resulting in more fighters disarming and repatriating voluntarily.

As the latest group touched the tarmac at Kigali International Airport, another 207 ex-FDLR combatants were undergoing a rehabilitation programme at Mutobo Transit Centre.

We believe, more and more combatants will see the light and return home. FDLR senior commanders and political leaders must stop spreading fear and panic among the remaining fighters that they are holding hostage.

They should release them unconditionally. The rebels’ willingness to return home is proof that their evil cause is no longer acceptable even from within the terrorist group.

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