Last week, the Bishop of Butembo-Beni, Sikuli Paluku wondered aloud, when he raised the question of the whereabouts of FDLR terrorists who had been cantoned in Kanyabayonga since the beginning of the DDRRR (Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration).
Bishop Paluku said he had addressed his question to MONUSCO but failed to get a coherent answer. Shockingly, the Bishop revealed that one of the MONUSCO officers responded that he did not think that “there were any Rwandans (FDLR) on Congolese territory”! The Bishop says this statement has worried him even more because FDLR has since intensified their massacres of Congolese civilians in Congo, yet MONUSCO does not seem to be concerned.
As a result of one of the numerous regional agreements aimed at facilitating the achievement of peace in the Eastern Congo, MONUSCO committed to round up FDLR terrorists in collaboration with the Congolese army-FARDC, in a program that was code named DDRRR-Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration. The plan was to force all FDLR combatants to surrender and be cantoned in camps, from where they would be disarmed and repatriated to Rwanda for processing with the goal of re-education and integration into society those who had no case to answer while those who had cases would face prosecution.
However, the last time the world heard of the process after the pronouncement, was about having some FDLR who had surrendered and were awaiting repatriation. Whatever transpired thereafter, nobody seems to know. At the end of 2015, the head of MONUSCO’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, Taz Greyling said that from the beginning of that year, 710 FDLR members had been disarmed and demobilized and that most of these were children, the elderly and those in poor health.” The rate of surrenders accelerated since October those coming forward are in very bad physical and mental condition”, she told a news conference in 2015.
Bishop Paluku has further revealed that he had received information to the effect that the FDLR combatants who had gathered in Kanyabayonga, South of Lubero were later moved towards Goma where they were armed and sent to reinforce the FARDC against M23.
The new development comes after another shocking event where the FARDC signed a cooperation agreement with FDLR which saw the former releasing FDLR senior combatants (ostensibly with combat experience) to strengthen the government forces in their war against M23 rebel movement. Known as Pinza, the pack was reached in total breach of agreement regarding the disarmament and repatriation of members of the blacklisted genocidal and terrorist group to Rwanda for trial.
The revelations by the Bishop further compound concerns about regional security, since the DDRRR program was one of the most significant mechanisms that gave hope for peace in the Eastern Congo and the region by extension.