AT LEAST 120 members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia have voluntarily returned home since January 1, an official has said.
Coming hot on the back of reports that FDLR militia group have joined forces with the Kinshasa government to relaunch fighting with rebel M23 group, ex-combatants of the FDLR have decided that enough is enough and are instead packing their belongings fThe Chairperson of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), John Sayinzoga, yesterday told The New Times that the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) helped repatriate five ex-combatants and four of their dependants through Rubavu district. MONUSCO also repatriated some 45 “civilians” through the Nkamira transit centre.
“In Nyagatare transit centre in Rusizi district, there is currently a total of 127 ex-combatants. We are not yet sure about the number of the ones coming in t0day (yesterday),” Sayinzoga said, explaining that there is, generally, “a slight” increase in the number of FDLR returnees lately. He said 1, 213 ex-combatants were repatriated in 2012.
Meanwhile, in the past few days, hundreds of the ex-rebels’ dependants have also willingly continued to flock home.
Frederic Ntawukuriryayo, the communications officer at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, who was at the Nyagatare refugee transit centre yesterday, said, “We are expecting about 120 returnees today [yesterday], but I can only get the details when they arrive.”
On December 31, last year, the UN Security Council Committee slapped FDLR leaders with new sanctions, including an arms embargo.
Formed in 2000, the FDLR comprises members of the former Rwandan regime and army that perpetrated the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi before fleeing into eastern DRC. It is one of the largest foreign armed groups operating in the territory of the DRC.
It has committed serious violations of international law involving the targeting of women and children in armed conflict in the DRC, including killing and maiming, sexual violence, and forced displacement