The United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, has expressed optimism that the Joint Operation between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) against FDLR elements will permanently resolve the crisis in Eastern Democratic Republic Congo.
Holmes who also serves as the Emergency Relief Coordinator commended the operation, saying that bringing the FDLR under control, will allow the two countries to tackle other illegal armed groups operating in the region in order to allow displaced persons to return home in significant numbers.
The UN Official who concluded a visit to the Eastern Part of DRC where the Joint forces are carrying out an offensive against the rebels made up of Ex-FAR/Interahamwe remnants, said that the over 250,000 people displaced by the war should be able to return home as soon as the operation ends.
Holmes, who visited several displaced people’s camps including ‘Kibati’ Camp on the outskirts of Goma town, said that the operation has presented hope to refugees, citing the repatriation of thousands of refugees back to Rwanda as another positive development registered by the operation code named ‘Umoja Wetu’.
He added that in the conversations he had with displaced peoples in the area, it was clear that they have hope to return to their homes as soon as it is safe to do so because “they do see things essentially in a positive light,”.
Holmes also cited the end of the war between CNDP and the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) as another positive trend towards ending the conflict in the region to an end. He becomes the second UN official to hail the joint offensive which began in mid January in two weeks.
Last week, the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo hailed the progress of the 2-month operation during a brief visit to Kigali.
Over 300 combatants and 2557 non combatants have surrendered to the Joint Task Force and have successfully been repatriated, while over 100 FDLR insurgents have been killed in the offensive.
Holmes however expressed concerns that despite the progress registered in the South, the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony continues to terrorise thousands of Congolese in the Orientale Province of the DRC.