Saturday, 16 March 2013

Govt confirms M23 combatants fleeing into Rwanda

Govt confirms M23 combatants fleeing into Rwanda
M23 rebels in Goma late last year, as they prepared to withdraw as part of a regional peace plan

The Government of Rwanda announced Saturday that a new wave of Congolese refugees including combatants fleeing recent fighting between two factions of M23 rebels have crossed into North Western Rwanda overnight.
Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said “over 200 combatants” have entered Rwanda. There have been reports that the M23 group is currently in two factions. One group is led by the former top military commander Sultani Makenga and the other led by former M23 president Bishop Jean Marie Runiga, who is allied to Gen Bosco Ntaganda.
Rwanda says among those who have sought asylum in Rwanda is Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga, former president of M23, “who has been detained separately away from the refugee camp for his own safety”.
“The soldiers and officers from DRC that have entered Rwanda have been disarmed and detained. Several wounded among them are receiving treatment with assistance from the Red Cross,” said Mushikiwabo, in a statement.
“We are consulting several regional and international organisations to facilitate appropriate handling of this new group of refugees.”
The Minister added: “Instability in the DRC continues to directly affect Rwanda as demonstrated by this new wave of refugees. Rwanda recently signed on to the UN-led Peace Framework for the DRC and we remain committed to working with our neighbour states and other partners for an end to conflict in Eastern DRC.”
As of Friday, more than 5,000 Congolese refugees have entered Rwanda fleeing the M23 factional fighting. On Friday alone, more than 1400 refugees crossed the border carrying anything they could bring along.
Over 25,000 Congolese entered Rwanda as a result of resurgence of conflict in Eastern DRC last year. Close to 18,000 live in the Kigeme refugee camp in Southern Rwanda and another 7,766 are housed at the Nkamira transit camp in Rubavu.
Clarification: The Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo has clarified to News of Rwanda that the Congolese combatants fleeing into Rwanda have sought “refuge” not “asylum”, as reported in the story.


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