John Sayinzoga, the Chairman of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) agrees, though partly, with the recent UN report indicating that FDLR returnees “multiplied four-fold on a monthly basis compared to last year.”
The UN on April 27 indicated that the (FDLR) rebels were surrendering at a rate of 146 fighters a month, according to the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC), with more than 660 combatants returning home.
“Yes, that is true but what is only not true is the figure of 1,000 dependants that came along with the combatants. Instead, it was about 3,000 of them,” Sayinzoga said on phone yesterday.
“And again, these all came during the recent military operations.”
The FDLR is an outfit accused by Rwanda of having masterminded the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Joint Rwanda-DRC military operations, started January and ended February, to deal with the rebels saw thousands of them forcefully repatriated but the rebels have recently allegedly engaged in lethal reprisals against innocent Congolese civilians.
Most of the FDLR combatants came through MONUC’s voluntary disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and rehabilitation (DDRRR) programme.
Civilians, on the other hand, are repatriated by the UN Refugee agency – UNHCR.
UNHCR recently confirmed growing concerns that the FDLR have continued killing, raping and displacing hundreds of civilians in eastern DRC.
David Nthengwe, UNHCR External Relations Officer late over the weekend confirmed that the FDLR attacked on April 17 and 18, targeting civilians.
He said the attack was in a place called Luofu, in the Lubero territory, about 175 kilometres north of the provincial capital Goma.
Nthengwe also stressed concerns that the rebels had threatened to attack again, a threat he worriedly believes they would carry out.