Today April 7th, 2023 started the Commemoration of the Genocide in Rwanda against Tutsi and Moderate Tutsi. This was used as excuse to massacre 10million Congolese, but what happened to the Hutus Civilians who fled to DRCongo by then Zaire since 1994 up to now?
Rwanda starts today a one week commemoration of the genocide that claimed the lives of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus, at least these are now known 29 years after. This forced an unknown number of Rwandans mainly Hutus to flee to DRCongo (by then Zaire) where they lived in camps near the border with Rwanda mainly in North Kivu and in South Kivu. Unanswered remain how did the UN and the DRCongo accept to keep put camps near the border which is against UNHCR standards of at least 55 Km? Who took such decision? Who backed such decision? Why were Civilians mixed up together with armed Rwandan groups in camps? The real number of these refugees is not yet known despite the presence of the United Nations and the DRCongo Government, some estimations indicate these Hutus at around 2millions, others at around 3millions and the Hutus themselves believe they could have been 4million people. How many were armed groups and how many were poor civilians in these refugee camps in Congo?
Two years after the genocide, Rwanda and Uganda deployed their armies in DRCongo in the pretext of dealing with the genocidaires who were hidden in refugee camps in Zaire. These foreign armies destroyed all the refugee camps and killed thousands of refugees, but again up to now we do not know how many refugees were massacred in DRCongo since 1996 up to now. Not only Rwandan refugees but also Congolese people were massacred by these foreign armies, and estimations indicate that more than 10million Congolese have been massacred since 1996 up to now by Rwanda and Uganda Armies deployed in DRCongo.
So, after the attacks on refugee camps in DRC, and after the massacres, how many were killed and how many survived up to now? Among those refugee killed how many were in armed groups and how many were civilians?
We remain forced to a culture of lack of information yet we want to know, what happened exactly and why it happened in that way. The number of refugee camps attacked and destroyed completely in DRCongo are known by the few people, the number of refugees in those camps massacred and bunt alive is not yet known, why they were killed and why the camps were targeted yet those who had guns and participated in the genocide in Rwanda had already left the camps? Why did Rwanda and Uganda target poor civilians in these refugee camps in Zaire, why should Uganda and Rwanda burn the refugee camps which were defenseless and not harmful anymore after the capture of the eastern parts of DRC by Uganda and Rwanda.
During these attacks, Rwandan refugees took different directions, while some were scattered in DRCongo, others crossed to neighboring countries mainly Uganda, Central Africa Republic, Congo-Brazaville, Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya among others. Again how many are these refugees? What legal status do they have in these countries? That also still a mystery up to now.
Okay, it is now 29 years since the genocide in Rwanda, how many civilian Rwandan refugees do we have in DRCongo now? Where do they live? How do they live? What is their legal status in DRCongo? Why are they not protected by the United Nations? These questions and many more remain unanswered up to now, yet we need clear responses.
Can we depend on UNHCR and the CNR in order to get information about Rwandan refugees in DRCongo?
As per now, No,
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not have statistics about these Rwandan refugees, UNHCR is not even in contact with so many, and in some cases refugees accuse UNHCR of being a mere implementer of the Rwanda Agenda against them. UNHCR is struggling, part of her staffs are either perceived as Rwandans or pro-Rwanda, the others live in Rwanda while working on refugee issues in DRCongo, and by nature UNHCR does not seem to work towards the protection of refugees but rather to push them to go back to Rwanda. But again, on this why should donors especially the European Union, the United States and others give their money to fund a forced repatriation of refugees back to Rwanda? What is the benefit of the donors in this operations? And who does the protection of refugees in DRCongo threaten?
The Congolese National Commission for Refugees known as CNR, in itself was established by the pro-Rwanda backed rebel group of RCD Goma in 1998 in order to facilitate in a human way the forced repatriation of Hutus refugees back to Rwanda, that was the main purpose and this continued up to now, the CNR is not oriented towards the protection of refugees. As both UNHCR and CNR may have various explanations about these forced repatriations of refugees back to Rwanda, the refugees themselves have a different view and look at these institutions as merely Rwandan operations.
Yes, we want to know more about the victims of the genocide in Rwanda, but at the same time and on equally basis we want to know about the victims of various attacks against Rwandan refugees in DRCongo. Researchers around the world still have a big work to do in this field but we do not see them come to DRCongo.
Once that is done, they Rwandan Refugees in DRCongo will also commemorate the genocide.
COJESKI/DRC COORDINATION OF NORTH KIVU.