Following comments made on Monday by its president Paul Kagame that they would expel Congolese refugees, the Rwandan government has since reversed course.
This comes after the move was denounced internationally. President Kagame was misled by the media, according to Ms. Yolande Makolo, the spokesperson for the Rwandan government, yesterday.
“Rwanda has no intention to expel or ban refugees. We always welcome people fleeing insecurity, persecution and violence. We are asking for the international community to take responsibility for finding a durable solution for this forgotten group of refugees from the DRC,” Ms Makolo tweeted.
Mr. Kagame stated on Monday that Rwanda will not serve as a dumping ground for people fleeing ethnic cleansing and other human rights violations in the DRC.
“There is one type of refugees that I think we aren’t going to accept. We can’t keep being host to refugees for which later on we are held accountable, in some where we are even abused about,” he said.
The Rwandan leader continued, saying that such refugees should either be transported to other nations or returned to Congo, where they would be guarded by what he called mercenary foreign forces. According to President Kagame, there are 80,000 Congolese refugees living in Rwanda. They are primarily thought to be Congolese Tutsis.
“So carry them from here and take them where you want or they go back to Congo and protect them from there. You will protect them against their own government and from mercenaries,” Mr Kagame said.
Rwanda is charged by the DRC with aiding the M23 insurgents. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is also accused of aiding the Rwandan rebel group FDRL (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda).
The international community, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other rights organizations criticized President Kagame’s remarks because he was also a long-time refugee in Uganda.
A multibillion-dollar agreement that Rwanda negotiated with the United Kingdom last year to host asylum seekers trying to enter Europe was criticized by human rights organizations.
The international community has repeatedly accused them of orchestrating the violence in the DRC, but these same groups have been unable to address the issues in the eastern neighbor that are endangering Rwanda’s existence, according to President Kagame.
Some Congolese politicians claim that the individuals Rwandan authorities are referring to are actually Rwandan Tutsis who seek to seize control of the mineral-rich Eastern DRC and carve it out into a separate state independent of Kinshasa.
The DRC government also accuses Rwanda of seeking to deploy fighters trained there who later pose as refugees and join the M23 rebels.