RwandAir flights to DRC suspended amidst escalating tension between both countries

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 28 May 2022 at 12:00

The national carrier, RwandAir has suspended flights to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the country’s announcement barring RwandAir from its airspace and accusing Rwanda of supporting M23 rebels.

The decision to ban RwandAir flights has been taken during an extraordinary meeting of the Superior Defence Council chaired by Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi.

"It was decided to immediately suspend flights from the RwandAir aviation company to the Democratic Republic of Congo," said Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya.

The council also summoned Rwanda’s ambassador to DRC to provide explanations on the allegations.

In a statement released on Saturday 28th May 2022, RwandAir responded by cancelling "with immediate effect" all flights to Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Goma.

“Following the decision of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to suspend RwandAir flights, RwandAir has decided to cancel all flights to Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Goma with immediate effect,” reads part of the statement.

“We are sorry for the inconvenience and disruption this may cause to our customers and we will waive change of reservation fees and offer re-issues or refunds for those affected,” adds the statement.

RwandAir has also revealed that it will update customers and be in touch with them where it can.

On Monday this week, Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) announced that Congolese Army (FARDC) in collaboration with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) shelled rockets on Rwanda’s land in Musanze and Burera Districts.

The projectiles injured residents and left houses destroyed.

Following the incident, RDF requested the regional Extended Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) to launch probe into the incident.

On Thursday 26th May 2022, the Spokesperson of the Government of Rwanda, Yolande Makolo also requested Congolese Foreign Affairs Minister to explain why his country shelled Rwanda’s land.

She revealed that Rwanda would be legitimate to respond to those attacks but highlighted that the country has no intentions to do so calling the situation in DRC ‘an internal matter’.

Rwanda Defence Force has this Saturday announced that FARDC in collaboration with FDLR have kidnapped two Rwandan soldiers on patrol.

Political analysts who spoke to IGIHE have said that the repetitive attacks of DRC are meant to draw Rwanda into a war.

The fighting erupted in March this year and later halted for a while. It however resumed towards the end of last week.

Since the fighting erupted between FARDC and M23, sources reveal, the government’s army continues to loose military bases.

M23 is one of more than 120 armed groups that roam eastern DR Congo.
The rebel group had captured Goma town in 2012, before the army quelled the rebellion.

However, M23 resumed fighting this year, accusing DRC of failing to respect a 2009 agreement under which its fighters were to be incorporated into the army.

On Friday, the United Nations reported that the recent clashes between Congolese military and M23 rebels in eastern part of the country have left more than 72,000 people displaced.

RwandAir has suspended flights to DRC amidst escalating tension between both countries.