The UN representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has urged combatants fighting with the FDLR militia group in the Eastern DRC to put down their arms and use the available opportunity to return home.
The UN official who has just concluded a 2-day visit in the eastern DRC called upon the militia group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), to join the voluntary Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Reintegration and Rehabilitation (DDRRR) programme run by the UN mission in the DRC and benefit from the amnesty before the joint operation comes to an end.
The joint operation by Rwanda and DRC forces was launched last month with an aim of flushing the FDLR out of the eastern Congo and it is set to end this week.
“The FDLR have to understand that there’s no room for them on Congolese soil,” said Allan Doss after a two day stint in the North Kivu Province aimed at assessing the situation on the ground.
“Many thousands of civilian refugees have also taken the path of returning home with UNHCR assistance. I urge the fighters who remain in the DRC to follow suit and take the way back,” remarked Doss, who also heads the peacekeeping operation, MONUC.
Doss also visited the areas of fighting in North Kivu to assess the progress of the joint military offensive by the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and the Congolese Forces (FARDC).
Doss visited the town of Pinga, where UN peacekeepers have a base that coordinates with the Congolese military to protect the 10,000 residents and some 6,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) dispersed by the violence.
He urged the remaining FDLR fighters who are now believed to have been disorganised by the offensive code name ‘Umoja Wetu’ to follow the example of their colleagues who joined the DDRRR process in recent weeks, returning in “peace and dignity [to Rwanda] with their dependents.”
The UN Mission in DRC came out to accuse FDLR fighters, driven out by coalition forces of employing ‘cowardly tactics’, returning to harass, looting, raping and murdering innocent civilians amid intensifying military offensive by the two armies.
FDLR is mainly composed of elements responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, most of whom fearing to return for being held accountable for their roles in the Genocide that left over a million people dead.