DR Congo: refugees terrorised by militias



Kinshasa: From the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo reports continue to arrive of suffering caused to local people by gangs of armed  men.

The UN Organising Committee of Humanitarian Aid, OCHA, says that since the beginning of this year, 800,000 people – 350,000 in North Kivu and 450,000 in South Kivu - have been forced to leave their homes and villages,  because of operations by the Armed Forces of Congo (FARDC) against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR),  both of whom are also attacking civilians.

Troops of the 10th army region of South Kivu and those taking part in operation Kimia II blame one another for the violence. According to OCHA, because government soldiers have not been paid for weeks they will continue to harass the civilian population to meet the needs of their families.

According to the Peace for Congo Association promoted by local missionaries, which cites the local Cluster Santé Humanitarian Association in Bukavu, main city of the region of South-Kivu, in the first three months of 2009, no less than 3,424 cases of sexual violence were reported and of these 1,335 took place in medical centres.

In northern and southern Kivu the Congolese army supported by UN peacekeepers in Congo MONUC, are leading a series of military operations against the FLDR, which retaliate with violence against civilians.

According to Peace for Congo,  to end this infernal cycle of violence, Hutu people in general and Rwandan refugees in DRC, including the  FDLR as a movement, should no
longer be labelled perpetrators of genocide. It is necessary to make a clear distinction between civilians and armed gangs, Hutu refugees in general, and the small band of men wanted by Rwandan and international justice for implication in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
A second step could be to convince the FDLR to disarm and agree to de-localisation in other areas of the DRC identified by the Congolese government and the international community, which should guarantee assistance and security, and grant them a status of refugees. Even in this situation of diaspora, the members of the FDLR would have a chance to work with non violent means, for political change in Rwanda which, in future, could enable them to return peacefully to their own country.

Source: Fides

Share this story