DR Congo turns a deaf ear as refugees continue to pour in Rwanda

On 16 January 2023 at 11:26

The fighting between Congolese Army (FARDC) and M23 rebel group is ongoing since May 2022. The possibility to end the fighting seems to be a dream as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has turned a deaf ear to concerns of Kinyarwanda-speaking communities and continues to abuse their rights.

The latest report from Rwanda’s Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA) shows that 2798 Congolese have fled to Rwanda from 13th November 2022 to 13th January 2023.

This means, the country receives at least 100 Congolese refugees everyday fleeing violence and insecurity.

On Friday 13th January 2023, Rwanda welcomed 106 refugees from the same country.

Despite the situation, 131 refugees have returned home since November with deep fear that the situation might worsen and seek refuge again.

Salathiel Nduhuye Gatuku, a breadwinner in a family of nine recently told IGIHE that he fled to Rwanda in 2012 coming from Kalehe.

As he said, they were being witch hunted by soldiers of FARDC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to kill them.

He shares the sorrow with Furaha Dusabimana also hailing from Kalehe. “I was brought up in refuge instead of enjoying rights in my home country. I still wonder the crime Tutsis committed to be persecuted and killed of torture in the country. The situation is worrying,” she said.

DRC registers over 130 armed groups where the majority of them are based in eastern part of the country.

These include the FDLR, a terrorist group formed by individuals responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

As the fighting between FARDC and M23 resumed, DRC formed a coalition with FDLR and started blaming Rwanda for insecurity in the country accusing the neighbouring country of backing M23.

However, Rwanda has repeatedly denied the allegations and urged DR Congo to solve internal problems without dragging it into its mess.

The FARDC-FDLR coalition also shelled rockets on Rwanda’s territory at different times which destroyed properties and injured people last year.

Apart from the provocations, DRC politicians have been propagating hate speeches that continue to fuel violence against Rwandophones who face rights abuse.

Instead of paying attention to the root cause of insecurity, DRC continues to accuse Rwanda of being behind insecurity in the country and politicizing refugees over self-interests.

The country has been claiming that Kinyarwanda-speaking communities are Rwandans who must return home ignoring facts of their ancestral roots where they lived in Congo for many years.

The United Nations recently warned of possible genocide against Kinyarwanda-speaking communities in DRC over the country’s continuous propagation of hate speeches and violence against the ethnic group.

Rwandophones who make up 5% of Congolese population mainly live in Northern and Southern Kivu Province.

The violence against them and insecurity that mired eastern Congo, saw some group of Congolese refugees fleeing to Rwanda where they have been living for more than 20 years.

As President Felix Tshisekedi came to power in 2019, they hoped for the end of refugee life nightmare experienced.

However, the hope has been lost after three years where the refugees are warning about the extermination of their relatives who stayed in DRC.

The fear for escalating genocide against Tutsi communities prompted over 19,000 refugees from Kiziba camp to stage protests on Wednesday, December 19, 2022, demanding the international community to put pressure on DRC to stop the killings.

These Congolese refugees protested after their colleagues from the camps of Kigeme, Mugomba, and Mahama mounted demonstrations demanding the Congolese Government to stop killing their relatives and help them return to their homeland.

instead of responding to their concerns, DRC has taken a stand to advocate for and sanitize FDLR yet the international community has labeled it as a terrorist group.

Rwanda hosts more than 70,000 Congolese refugees, including those who arrived for the first time in 1996.

Rwanda hosts more than 70,000 Congolese refugees, including those who arrived for the first time in 1996.