The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Congolese Problems Merit African Solutions-Envoys

A delegation of African ambassadors based in Rwanda have stressed that the political conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) can only be solved by Africans themselves without relying on external intervention.

During a visit to Nkamira Transit centre in Rubavu District, the diplomats said that such problems are entirely African and merit African solutions. The camp is currently hosting thousands of Congolese refugees fleeing fierce skirmishes pitting government soldiers and rebels in the Eastern region of the vast nation.

"As Africans, we have the best solutions to our own problems. We do not expect anyone to come and help us while we just watch on, said Richard Kabonero, the Ugandan High Commissioner.

Speaking on behalf of the envoys, Kabonero condemned the ongoing human rights abuse in the DRC highlighting that the Congolese Government should take responsibility by involving other African countries to help in resolving the problems without pointing an accusing finger at anyone.

"Irrespective of the language they speak, the protection of the population on DRC soil is the responsibility of the Congolese Government, but other countries should not hesitate to help," he said.

The delegation comprised six representatives from Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, DRC and South Africa.

The envoys were also accompanied by representatives from various international agencies including World Food Programme (WPF), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank.

The latter have contributed to the ongoing transfer of refugees from Nkamira to Kigeme camp in Nyamagabe District.

The delegation visited the camp's facilities including accommodation and health centre and examined how the verification and registration exercise is carried out.

Most of the refugees accuse MONUSCO soldiers of raping women and persecuting residents instead of protecting them.

"We have never got any protection from them (MONUSCO). When the conflict broke out, we sought for refuge from them. Later, they selected some women to sleep with and those who declined their advances were thrown out," claimed one of the refugees, Vivine Uwimana.

Uwimana said she was persecuted because she spoke Kinyarwanda and was forced to flee to Rwanda.

Rife disagreements between the Congolese army and mutineers who call themselves M23, who cut links with the Congolese military, are clearly affecting Rwanda with Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese citizens unduly targeted with accusations that they are backing the rebels.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Antoine Ruvebana, said the visit was aimed at lobbying for more partners to assist the refugees.

"The initiative of African ambassadors to visit this camp is a sign of the humanitarian spirit of African countries and their commitment to contribute to find lasting solutions for the conflict in DRC. We also expect this visit to generate fruits in the advocacy drive for the welfare of refugees in Rwanda."

Nkamira Transit centre has experienced a deluge of Congolese refugees fleeing war in their homeland since April 27, 2012. The centre registers a daily average of 200 refugees and is currently home to over 11,000 refuges. So far, 5,056 have been transferred to Kigeme camp in Nyamagabe District.

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