•Receive hero’s welcome
GOMA, GISENYI – Rwandan troops returned home from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Wednesday afternoon and received a rousing welcome from hundreds of jubilant Congolese and Rwandan residents of the border towns of Goma (DRC) and Gisenyi.
The troops were part of operation Umoja Wetu, the joint Rwanda-DRC military offensive against FDLR elements in eastern DRC’s.
A farewell ceremony was held In Goma and was attended by many dignitaries, including Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministers from both countries in addition to the two army’s Chiefs of Staff.
“I wish to tell you how Rwandans are proud of your bravery, your discipline, your sacrifice and your demonstration that so much is possible with such little means if this country’s duty calls,” Foreign Affairs’ Rosemary Museminali said, thanking them for a job well done.
“You have contributed to a strong foundation for both our countries,” she told the joint forces.
“You have shown our countries that we can rely on you for our protection, for our peace and security. You have shown that we are at our best when we are together and that our strength can be best found in our unity,” Museminali noted.
“The FARDC from today will continue the work that the joint forces have started,” she said, adding that “much success was achieved but much remains to be done.”
“We appreciate your resolve to remain focused on the joint objective of Umoja Wetu – uprooting FDLR/Interahamwe and returning peace in the region,” she reiterated, while also reminding the gathering that the FDLR committed genocide in 1994 .
“Today, fifteen years on, their appetite to kill, rape, loot, and dehumanize remains undiminished,” pointed out Museminali who also thanked North Kivu’s Governor Julien Paluku and his people for welcoming and supporting the joint forces.
DRC Defense Minister, Charles Mwando Nsimba, highlighted that it was a memorable day and underscored that the two countries’ leaders had “put their energies together” to eradicate all forms of menaces capable of destabilizing the sub region.
“These two countries have decided to fight the regional phenomenon, the FDLR,” he said.
He noted the fact that “more than five thousand Rwandans,” including FDLR elements, were repatriated during the course of the joint military operations and, and congratulated the Commander of the joint operations as well as all the officers of the two armies.
Nsimba also firmly promised DRC’s objective to continue where the just concluded joint operations ended and finish the job.
Rwandan Defence Minister Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi, assured the huge Goma gathering that the Rwandan Defence Force will remain ready to help in efforts eradicate any menace to peace and stability in the sub-region.
The reception in Gisenyi town, starting immediately from the common border with Goma, was unmatched as businesses almost came to a standstill as people thronged the main road to welcome the triumphant soldiers.