We strongly object the Joint Military Operations in Eastern D.R.Congo between D.R.Congo and Rwanda against FDLR Rebels in Eastern D.R.Congo.

We Global Refugee Leaders Forum are disturbed by the militarization of Eastern D.R.Congo which jeopardizes our efforts to reduce and end the fleeing of Congolese to seek refuge in Uganda and in other countries. “We cannot praise ourselves of protecting refugees, we should ensure that people are not forced to run away from their homes”. Is the D.R.Congo government intending to divert our attention on the issue of ADF killing people in Beni? During this this time when our eyes are looking for strong engagement to end violence in killings in Beni, when we are all still waiting for answers on who killed the Italian Ambassador in Congo and why? We are now being presented this. From Monday this week we started getting information about a prepared Joint Military Operation bringing together Congolese Army and Rwandan Army against “Rwandan Rebel Group of FDLR” operating in Eastern D.R.Congo. Basing on information from Jeune Afrique Facebook Page of Monday March 21st, 2021 and the poste from Pepele News Facebook of Tuesday March 22nd, 2021 indicated that these military operations are being prepared already in Kinshasa. While we are so much concerned about the time of these joint military operations which have just been prepared only few weeks after the spectacular assassination of the Italian Ambassador in Eastern D.R.Congo, may point at who was the beneficiary of this barbaric killing. Over the time questions were raised about who does the killing of the Ambassador could benefit, and now we seem to observe who are interested in instability in Eastern D.R.Congo. We hold the view that there is no need to kill an Ambassador in order to justify a military operation. Let us remind everyone that since 1996 up to now, Rwanda has used the same pretext of neutralizing FDLR armed groups in her efforts to invade D.R.Congo, unfortunately these operations have never achieved their objectives. More than 25 years now, there is a need to revise these same strategies and adopt new ones which are likely to be more effective. Like in the past, Rwandan Military Operations regardless of the wording they are given, have just been a mere form of aggression, characterized by massive massacre of Congolese people, looting of natural resources, forcing thousands of Congolese to run away from their homes in order to seek asylum in refugee camps in other countries, to live in camps in Internally Displaced Camps, and burn entire villages among other human rights violations. We would not like to such again. We hold the views that there are better solutions for peace and security in Eastern D.R.Congo and those better solutions should be prioritized rather than looking for cheap political gains which cost a lot to the local population. We do remind all actors to look at the following options which will bring a lasting solution in the Eastern D.R.Congo and engage the Government in Kinshasa to abandon the said military options: 1. Basing on various research works already done, the FDLR rebel group is composed essentially at 85% of Rwandan refugees who fled to D.R.Congo in 1994, it is now time for the country to ensure the protection of these refugees, but also many are part of Congolese people who use that name FDLR, they need a social solution, 2. The Eastern part of D.R.Congo is highly under the influence of Rwandan security services which makes the protection of refugees almost impossible, it is time that the Congolese Government puts much attention on the security of refugees in the East. Those who reject the protection of refugees in eastern D.R.Congo are beneficiaries of the ongoing instability and should be held accountable, 3. Refugees in the Eastern part of Congo especially Rwandans have lost protection since 1996 up to now and they find themselves in situations where their options are limited, it is time now that D.R.Congo sets up refugee camps in various places in Eastern parts of the country and ensure that refugees access humanitarian relief aid, after that existing durable solutions should be considered, 4. The current D.R.Congo government should include the protection of refugees in her Diplomatic engagement with Rwanda in line with national and international obligations of the country, but also with the International Community in order to mobilize all the necessary resources that are needed for this task, 5. Humanitarian organizations and all other actors should simply abandon the strategies of criminalization of people who are supposed to be refugees, and work hard to extend services towards them. Thousands of Rwandan refugees are dying in Eastern D.R.Congo simply because they have been denied relief aid, and this is one among the reasons why many prefer the bush option, 6. In order to avoid being manipulated by political actors there is an urgent need to share credible information, to engage on meaningful discussions and carry out more research work on the so called FDLR in Eastern D.R.Congo. Yours sincerely Jackson Baguma Ntamuzinda Regional Coordinator Goma, North Kivu/ DRCongo

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