Tuesday, 11 February 2014

QUESTION: Will FDLR rebels ever leave Congo and return to Rwanda?


FDLR fighter (file photo) Some FDLR leaders feel their lives would be in danger if they returned to Rwanda
Twenty years after the Rwandan genocide, some of those responsible are still wreaking havoc in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are terrorising the local population and profiting from the area's rich natural resources. The BBC's Grainne Harrington reports on the UN's attempts to persuade them to lay down their weapons and return home.
"Vincent Miranzi" is on the legal affairs commission of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) but he won't tell the BBC his real name.

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People who want to leave need to do it secretly, because if they want to surrender, they'll be betrayed, and they risk being executed”
Abdulli Mohammed UN mission in DR Congo
He arrived in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo after the Rwandan genocide, though he denies taking part in the slaughter of some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, which has led to two decades of unrest across the region.
The FDLR has been accused of recruiting child soldiers, rape and systematic looting.
"It's true that not everybody in our ranks is an angel," he says calmly.
"Some can engage in repressive behaviour. That exists in other countries too, in all societies. But we have ways of dealing with that. Each time a case is identified, then they have to submit to strict regulations."
Mr Miranzi has come to meet me in the village of Luofu, a small village nestled in the lush green hills of North Kivu, DR Congo's eastern province, bordering Rwanda, which has borne the brunt of years of conflict.
Luofu is now just outside FDLR territory, but for most of the past decade, it was dominated by the Rwandan rebels.
Village in eastern DR Congo Villages across eastern DR Congo have been attacked by FDLR fighters
Wounded man in DR Congo (file photo) The FDLR have been accused of committing atrocities against Congolese civilians
Rwandan troops in DR Congo Rwanda has twice invaded DR Congo, saying it is trying to hunt down militias who took part in the genocide
They extorted money from locals, pillaged farmers' harvests and set up road blocks, demanding money or goods from anyone travelling through.


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