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Rwanda - Democratic Republic of Congo

Former FDLR rebels return to Kigali

Surrendered firearms, Pastor Daniel Ngoyi Mulunda of PAREC, Interior and Security Minister Célestin Mbuyu and Vice Minister of Defence and Former Combatants Oscar Masamba
Surrendered firearms, Pastor Daniel Ngoyi Mulunda of PAREC, Interior and Security Minister Célestin Mbuyu and Vice Minister of Defence and Former Combatants Oscar Masamba Photo: PAREC

As many as 58 people, most of them members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) returned home voluntarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Rwandan media reported on Friday. The former militants, who were accompanied by women and children, arrived at Kigali airport after laying down their arms.

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“We are delighted because our wish is that all Rwandans return home,” Jean Sayinzoga, president of the national commission for demobilisation and reintegration, told Radio Rwanda.

It is thought the militants, including eight captains and two lieutenants, came from Katanga province in the south-east of the DRC.

They arrived at the airport wearing white T-shirts printed with the word PAREC (Ecumenical Programme for Peace, Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation), the North Kivu non-governmental organisation which helped repatriate the former rebels.

During a press conference after their arrival the leader of PAREC said they were glad to see peace returning to the region.

“We are happy to see that our efforts are already paying off and people are voluntarily offering to return home,” said Pastor Daniel Ngoyi Mulunda, according to The New Times newspaper.

“We want to see all countries enjoy stability so that people of both countries can live together in peace and harmony. The two presidents [Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and the DRC’s President Joseph Kabila] are committed to see that happen,” Mulunda added.

Sayinzoga believes there are still 3,000 FDLR rebels in North and South Kivu provinces. And many of them are also ready to lay down their arms.

“The pressure has mounted on them, so they have no option but to put down arms and return home,” he said.

Those repatriated will be taken to the Mutobo Mobilisation and Reintegration Centre for the next two weeks before they can resettle in their communities. The centre is currently home to another 207 former rebels who have already returned.

The disarmament programme, which was launched in March, offers 50 dollars for each firearm surrendered.

FDLR rebels are considered to be the main source of instability in the east of the DRC, where several armed groups are still active.

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