Congo: Rethinking a Return to Rwanda


: Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

June 11, 2007: The Rwandan Hutu militia the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is increasing in strength in the eastern Congo. The militia has been recruiting exiled Rwandan Hutus. The FDLR may now have 8,000 militiamen. The FDLR could have that many militiamen because efforts to demobilize Congolese militias have produced mixed results, but demobilizing the Hutus means eventually sending them back to Rwanda. Some of the FDLR leaders were members of the Interahamwe Hutu organization which was involved in the 1994 genocide against Rwandan Tutsis. That means the FDLR militiamen face imprisonment. As a result, many don't want to go back. There may be more to the new recruiting drive. Some of the Hutu leaders believe they can organize a force and return to Rwanda. That's a huge stretch of the imagination; it's also the kind of delusional goal that gets the Rwandan military interested in conducting cross-border operations. Both the UN and the Congolese government want to prevent that from happening. The UN, the Congo government, and the Rwandan government are watching a new organization that appeared on the scene in late Spring 2007. The PAROCO-FAP is described as an "anti-Tutsi alliance." The group is a hodge-podge of tribes and militias primarily located in North Kivu. The organization is allegedly pro-Hutu.

June 6, 2007: The Congolese Army freed nine villagers taken hostage by the FDLR's Rastas faction in its attack of May 27.

June 5, 2007: The government announced a new "justice restoration" program in the eastern Congo. The acronym is REJUSCO (Restoration of Justice in Congo). The program is sponsored by several European countries. The program intends to improve the administration of justice in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces. The program includes building new courts and jails.

June 4, 2007: The security situation in North and South Kivu provinces was once again deteriorating and that humanitarian aid organizations must be prepared to provide more relief to refugees. The UN urged militias in the area to protect civilians. But there is an increase in ethnic tensions, particularly in North and South Kivu, where Rwandan Hutu militias have been "retaliating" against villages. According to the militias, the attacks are "retaliation" for attacks by the Congolese Army on the militias. If it sounds like tit for tat warfare, that's because it is.

May 27, 2007: An FDLR faction called the the "Rastas" murdered 18 villagers in the town of Kanyola (South Kivu province). The Rastas also took several hostages, and 22 other people were injured in the massacre. It appears the Rastas used machetes because the villagers were hacked or clubbed to death.




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