Belgian MPs laud Rwanda’s ex-combatants reintegration

Belgian parliamentarians have commended Rwanda on efforts to reintegrate ex-combatants from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia into Rwandan communities.
One of Belgian MPs signs a visitor’s book after the tour in Mutobo. The New Times/ Jean Mbonyinshuti.
One of Belgian MPs signs a visitor’s book after the tour in Mutobo. The New Times/ Jean Mbonyinshuti.

Belgian parliamentarians have commended Rwanda on efforts to reintegrate ex-combatants from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia into Rwandan communities.

The MPs, who are on an official visit of the country, were commenting after their tour of Mutobo Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre in Northern Province. More than 11,000 ex-combatants, most of them from FDLR, have been reintegrated through the centre.

Most of the former combatants who shared experience with the delegation said they had been held captive by FDLR top leaders.

Francois Xavier de Donnea, the head of the delegation, said Rwanda has done enough to reintegrate former combatants and urged that DR Congo and  the international community to do their best to end the conflicts, especially in east of the country.

“I would recommend maintaining the reintegration momentum. We have learnt that most of FDLR members are in the Congo not because they are willing, but are forced to. Congolese authorities and the UN should do their best so FDLR members repatriate and are reintegrated,” de Donnea said.

Dr Jean Damascène Bizimana, the chairperson of the senatorial standing committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, said the delegation was invited by the Senate to discuss bilateral ties.

“They came here to witness how former combatants are received and trained before they are reintegrated in the community,” he said, adding that it was equally important that the European lawmakers get firsthand account on what keeps most of the militia in the Congo jungles.

“Many lies were told to us about Rwanda, that it was not a peaceful country. We lived as slaves until we got an opportunity to escape their (FDLR’s) grip and some of us left relatives there,” said Thomas Ndagijimana, who had lived in DR Congo since 1994.

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