Could the USA Ceasefire deal between Kinshasa and Kigali contribute to the killing of Rwandan Refugees in DRCongo?
Alert on the security of refugees and asylum seekers in North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo in the month of December 2023.
The United States of America embarked on a ceasefire agreement between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in the ongoing war in North Kivu Province, we do not know yet what was agreed upon but we are concerned about the deterioration of the security of refugees and we do suspect that once again Rwandan Security Services may have been allowed to operate in Eastern DRC against Rwandan refugees as part of peace deal.
The month of December 2023 has been the worst to Rwandan refugees in North Kivu, we observed the resurgence of crimes which we believed have been stopped mainly the assassination of Rwandan refugees, in December we were informed of two cases of refugee assassination in Goma, one who was a refugee and the other who was an asylum seeker.
What seemed unique in these cases was the way they these refugees were killed, in both cases according to eyewitnesses, the perpetrators were first of armed, putting on the DRC Army old uniform, speaking Kinyarwanda and ridding on Motor Bicycles, they wanted to pick the person and go with her/him to unknown places but both two people resisted and they were killed by more than 30 bullets.
Taking the person by force is exactly the way Rwanda operates in DRC and in the process the refugee will be in Rwanda mainly in Mutobo Rehabilitation Center. Such operations cannot be done without the involvement of UNHCR and CNR and the silence of these two institutions may point at that, in some cases UNHCR and CNR have been accused of playing a role. Refugees do resist because they do not want to go to Rwanda and they prefer being killed in DRC.
The various killings in Goma and kidnaping are different from these two cases, these cases look like other cases of 2019 and before where Rwandan security services could come to pick a refugee and if he/she resisted his was then killed in the similar way. In order to understand more about this we may need to question the forced repatriation operations against Rwandan refugees in which both UNHCR and CNR may not be strangers.
The first case was a refugee women who is recognized refugee in DRCongo, she was denied the verification in September 2023 by both UNHCR and CNR on ground that she moved to Uganda where she was also registered as a refugee, and instead they started encouraging her to go back to Rwanda, this is common when a refugee is targeted by Rwanda both UNHCR and CNR do often find reasons to distance from extending protection to that refugee,
The second case was a Rwanda refugee asylum seeker who has been in Congo over the years and was not granted document up to now, these cases are also common and both UNHCR and CNR always claim not responsible for those who are not yet recognized refugees.
Both cases happened in Mugunga a suburbs of Goma where Rwandan security services do often operate from against refugees, Mugunga is believed to host many Rwandan refugees in Goma. And this happens when the following events are taking place: The Global Refugee Forum Summit was taking place in Geneva when the very first refugee was shot, and this was clearly planned because it was assumed that most of key decision makers were in Geneva, the second case happened shortly after the elections and again in this, most of the attention was on elections and the new year.
Why this should happen?
We think there two possibilities for this to happen and this may be the biggest problem. We suspect that the negotiations between DRC President Felix Tshisekedi and the USA recently which concluded to the ceasefire might have concluded to the deployment of Rwandan security services in DRC in order to kill those who are wanted by Rwanda, secondly Rwanda may have changed the strategy and work directly with various armed groups based in DRC.
Despite promises of the DRC President to ensure the protection of refugees we seem to observe the changes, since 2020 we have believed that Rwandan refugees will be much protected but we are again worried, and again the situation of complicated because both UNHCR and CNR are believed to be highly influenced by Rwanda.