26 nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo are stuck at Mutobo Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre after they were found posing as Rwandan returnees from the DRC; the Chairman of Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), Jean Sayinzoga said yesterday.
The group is among the 58 former rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and their dependants who returned to Rwanda after surrendering and were received by Sayinzoga at Kigali International Airport.
But according to Sayinzoga, a thorough screening established that almost half of them were not Rwandans.
“We received a total of 58 returnees and we screened them thoroughly only to find that 32 of them were Rwandans. Of the 32, 16 were Rwandan civilians and 16 are former FDLR combatants. The remaining 26 are purely Congolese nationals,” he said.
Sayinzoga said that efforts to repatriate the Congolese have been unfruitful since the Congolese authorities rejected them.
“The problem right now is that the DRC government has rejected them. People have to realise that we have a screening system, we just don’t receive people and take them in just because they say they are Rwandans,” Sayinzoga said.
He added that efforts to contact the officials who had helped in the repatriation process were not successful. The officials include Pastor Daniel Ngoyi Mulunda of PAREC (Ecumenical Programme for Peace, Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation), under whose project many Rwandans have managed to return home.
“I have tried to explain to these officials on phone but they refuse to understand. These people don’t have proper names, they don’t know anything about where they lived before they went to Congo. We are looking for a solution but these officials have to know that we screen returnees before integrating them,” he said.
According to Sayinzoga, there are still some 3,000 FDLR elements in the jungles of North and South Kivu provinces of DRC and most of them are willing to lay down their arms and return.
The group that returned is part of the FDLR fighters and 106 dependants who were earlier this year 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.
As part of the disarmament programme by the Congolese government and PAREC, FDLR elements willing to put down arms are moved down to South Kivu town of Lubumbashi where they are settled temporarily before repatriating them.
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 operating in eastern DRC for the last 15 years.