The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today voiced its deep concerned over recent death threats against its human rights staff and local human rights organizations in Kalemie, in the African nation’s far east, urging the Government to take all necessary measures to ensure their safety.
In a new release, the mission, known as MONUC, said that three members of the UN Joint Human Rights Office and seven members of a local human rights organizations received anonymous death threats on their mobile phones on 24 December.
Meanwhile, former rebel soldiers have thanked MONUC for facilitating their return and reintegration in Rwanda, saying the current military operations in the eastern part of the DRC deeply influenced their return.
The comments were made today at an event marking the 34th phase of graduation of former combatants of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) from the Mutobo demobilization camp run by the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC). The FDLR is accused of atrocities including rape, massacres and looting in the DRC and western Rwanda.
Soldiers spend an average of two to three months at the Mutobo demobilization camp to undergo the reintegration process before entering civilian life in Rwanda. At today’s graduation ceremony, 362 FDLR ex-combatants received certificates in various disciplines including management and literacy.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Jean Sayinzoga, the chairman of the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, warned parents to prevent their children from participating in the ongoing war in Eastern DRC between dissidents of the FDLR and between the Congolese army (FARDC) and its allies.
Mr. Sayinzoga said it is a bad precedent when parents allow their children to cross the Rwandan border to enter into neighbouring DRC for violent purposes. The comment follow reports that 12 of the ex-combatants who graduated from the Mutobo demobilization camp were child-soldiers believed to have crossed over from Rwanda to the DR Congo.
While not directly involved in the Mutobo camp, MONUC has been ordered by the Security Council to support the process of disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration or resettlement (DDRRR) of foreign combatants and rebel groups.
According to MONUC, its DDRRR section repatriated more than 2,660 Rwandan ex-combatants this year, including 1,600 of their dependents. Since the start of its programme in December 2002, the section has repatriated close to 10,000 Rwandan ex-combatants, as well as an almost equal number of dependents.