Reactions to the Communique of the European Union following the publication of the Report of the United Nations Experts on the DRCONGO: We call upon the European Union to help DRCongo to address the protection of refugees and stop the blame game, since 1996 up to now these Rwandan refugees are massacred and the world is silent.
We have just read with great regret and concern the ambiguous Communique of the European Union of 31/12/2022 on the Report of the United Nations Experts on the DRCONGO. It may look strange that the European Union which is present in DRCongo may have shortcoming to clearly comprehend the dynamics around FDLR. It is not logical that these Rwandan refugees are used and exploited for more than 30 years in order to advance political agenda, yet they ought to be protected.
We still regret to continue reading the position of the EU which places the DRCONGO on the same level as Rwanda by asking each country to cease all support to the Armed Groups, in particular the M23 supported by Rwanda and the FDLR supported by DRCongo according to the European Union.
Being operational in the East of the DRCONGO we observe that the FDLR are fighting “essentially to Defend themselves against the attacks of the Rwandan Army which targets Rwandan Refugees” on Congolese soil but also to secure thousands of Rwandan Refugees in RDCONGO abandoned to themselves since 1996 to be massacred by Rwandan forces. We are strongly disapointed that over the years the European Union Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has never condemned Rwanda for all atrocities against these poor refugees. We have clearly observed that FDLR group is more active and visible once there are threats of Rwandan Army in Eastern DRCongo, and FDLR operates in defensive mechanism offering security to thousands of refugees. With the M23 war, some FDLR fighters who had already given up the Armed struggle and joined civilian life in many parts in DRCongo, have again left this and moved to the forest in order to join the resistance against the Rwandan-backed M23 as part of protecting Rwandan Refugees in DRCONGO.
Rwandan Refugees in Goma, DRCongo during our Community Meeting in December 2022,
From 1994 until now the European Union and all the United Nations have never even attempted to propose Durable Solutions to the problems of the Rwandan Refugees, and yet these Durable Solutions exist. But also since 1996 up to now there is no single gesture aiming at the protection of Rwandan refugees in DRCongo and no clear answer is given why they are not yet protected. M23 is a serious threat to the protection of refugees and in this as it has been over the years, the International Community is absent in all ideas about the issues of refugees.
On the contrary, the European Union alongside other donors have continued to finance UNHCR and MONUSCO for the Forced Repatriation of Rwandan Refugees, the evidence of which shows that these Refugees are recruited by Rwanda to fight on the side of the M23.
While in 2018 and 2018 the European Union in Uganda was informed on the activities of the M23 and which benefited from the Humanitarian aid of the European Union, not much was done to stop the activities of the rebel group to organize from refugee camps in Uganda, and at the same time the European Union refused to offer protection to Congolese Refugee Rights Defenders in Uganda who were all forced to flee Uganda following threats from the Ugandan Government.
We observe the comedy of the European Union, which advocates Peace in DRCONGO, at the same time grants millions of Euros to Uganda under the pretext of aid to refugees and to Rwanda under the pretext of supporting the operations of maintain the peace. And on the other hand, what does the EU give to the DRCONGO?
The solution remains available and the European Union should undertake the task to promote the Protection of Rwandan Refugees on Congolese territory, so as not to give Rwandan President Paul Kagame any more pretexts of engaging wars against DRCongo, and at the same time so that the FDLR no longer have of arguments to take weapons and recruit among refugees. Yet the protection of refugees in DRCongo remain possible and various options are available.
Since 2020 the European Union in DRCONGO has never even said a word about the situation of Rwandan Refugees, here in the East and especially in North Kivu the EU does not have activities for Refugees, yet in Uganda and Rwanda refugees are the center of the European Union Political Agenda. Only one Health Center called Raphael funded the European Union was operational offering medical treatment to Rwandan Refugees in 2022 but which they stopped because the Center did not have medicine.
The European Union should then take a clear position and stop maintaining the vagueness, continue to make recommendations to the Congolese Government while the EU has its share of responsibility.
We still call upon all actors that the protection of refugees in DRCongo is key for peace in the great lakes region, and that is the best option we should all embark on, as quickly as possible.
Made in Goma, this Monday 02/01/2023
Kulihoshi Musikami Pecos
Human Rights Defender, Specialized in Refugee Rights in the Great Lakes Region in Africa,
COJESKI/DRC, Coordination of North Kivu