The Rwandan opposition political platform condemns in the strongest terms possible the use of excessive force against refugees in KIZIBA refugee camp in Rwanda and calls on the international community, particularly the UNHCR to intervene to stop the violence.
On 1st and 2nd May, security forces are reported to have entered the refugee camp to arrest eight members of the camp’s executive committee who have escaped arrest in the first military raid of February 22, 2018. Batons, tear gas and live ammunition are said to have been used against the unarmed refugees. Unknown number of refugees were killed, wounded, detained or are missing. Twenty-two refugee leaders were arrested in the first raid in which 11 refugees were killed according to UNHCR sources and unknown numbers injured. Refugee leaders are targeted because they are accused of having masterminded the protest against deteriorating living conditions in the refugee camps and for asking a return to their country of origin, the Democratic Republic of Congo. We may recall that these refugees were shipped to Rwanda by the RPF in 1996 when it was preparing the invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo, then called Zaïre, telling them that it wanted to save them from a looming Tutsi genocide in Eastern Congo.
Regarding refugees’ request to return, it is the government of Rwanda that has been adamant in allowing the refugees to back with the complicity of some officials of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo signed an agreement with CNDP on 23rd March 2009 which included the peaceful
return of Congolese refugees living in Rwanda. As part of the implementation of the agreement a programme called “Programme National de stabilisation et de reconstruction” (STAREC) was signed on the 29th June 2009. This was followed by a tripartite agreement (DRC-Rwanda UNHCR). The technical working group of the three parties relating to the
practical modalities for the peaceful return of Congolese refugees to the DRC was held in Kigali on the 17th February 2010 and on 27-30th July 2010 in Goma. At the Goma meeting it was reported by a UNHCR delegate Salif Kagyi that more than 80% of refugees wanted to return to the DRC. The DRC government set up what was called “Comité Local Permanent de Réconciliation”, organised at the lowest administrative unit to welcome Congolese refugees.
The Rwandan opposition political platform calls on the United High Commission for Refugees to take its responsibility and take immediate action to protect refugees from state sponsored violence. It calls on the international community to urge the set-up of an independent enquiry into the killings of the Congolese refugees in Kiziba and to bring the
perpetrators to account for their crimes.
Done in London on May 3, 2018
Chair, Diplomacy Commission – P5-Platform