Rwanda repatriates 120 Congolese refugees

One hundred twenty-nine Congolese refugees who fled into the country following renewed fighting in eastern DR Congo have been repatriated.
Congolese refugees board a bus to Mugunga camp during their repatriation yesterday. The New Times/ Jean Mbonyinshuti.
Congolese refugees board a bus to Mugunga camp during their repatriation yesterday. The New Times/ Jean Mbonyinshuti.

One hundred twenty-nine Congolese refugees who fled into the country following renewed fighting in eastern DR Congo have been repatriated.

They are part of the more than 600 refugees who fled into the country in July and were taken to Nkamira Transit Centre.

Before their repatriation, there were concerted negotiations between the UN High Commission for Refugees, Rwanda and Congolese government, culminating into yesterday’s voluntary repatriation.

Speaking from Rubavu border post (Grande Barriere), Jean Damascene Kayitana, the advisor to the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, said government welcomed the initiative of both countries to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of the refugees from Rwanda.

“It is good that the Congolese refugees have gone back to their country after engagement with DR Congo,” said Kayitana.

He said it was voluntary repatriation which Rwanda supports.

The refugees who boarded a bus to Mugunga displaced people’s camp in Congo expressed joy that they were going back to their country.

“I am excited to go back to my country. I was not happy with my refugee status. I was initially prevented from going back but I am happy now that both countries agreed to our repatriation,” said Kesia Muhawenimana.

“Although we are going into a displaced people’s camp, we are near our home. We shall keep praying for peace so we can go back to our homes. We believe our country will one day be peaceful,” she added.

DRC welcomes refugees

Officials from North Kivu Province of DR Congo commended Rwanda for hosting and supporting the Congolese refugees until their repatriation.

“I thank the government of Rwanda that has received and supported our compatriots up to now. It is satisfying that we received them within 24 hours after ending negotiations on their repatriation,” said Julien Paluku Kahongya the North Kivu province governor.

He assured the refugees of support and protection in Mugunga camp, where they were taken.

Rwanda hosts around 70,000 Congolese refugees who fled their country due to insecurity.

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