Meeting the DDRRR Officer in Goma issues about FDLR: How do take decisions about FDLR in DRC and who are they

Report on the meeting with the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo Officer in-charge of DDRRR in Goma, North Kivu

A photo of FDLR Camp in North Kivu published by Aljazeara

In order to address issues surrounding the presence of Rwandan Army Group and other foreign armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations Mission put in place the programme called Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Reinsertion and Resettlement for all those in armed groups including foreign armed groups, in some parts of North Kivu this programme focuses on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda known as FDLR.

However this programme has raised various questions on how the decision was made, who made the decision and for whose interests, where the concerned armed groups involved, and what is the benefit of DRC, which information do actors have about these armed groups in order to define a clear approach?

Like other UN Mission programs the DDRRR has also failed, however the UN Mission has not made serious evaluation about this programme, and the importance to capitalize the existing opportunities and the need to remove it from politics.

Here in North Kivu, there are serious allegations and observations that may need further research in order to establish facts so that we may put in place interventions which are based on facts. Questions are remaining about FDLR, who are they, how are they a danger, to who and why, and then what do they want, can we offer them what they want and which approach can we put in place for Rwandan refugees in eastern DRC.

The first allegation indicates that in many cases the DDRRR has deported back to Rwanda refugees who were arrested in North Kivu, presented to authorities as armed groups yet they are not and have been taken to Rwanda against their will,

The second allegation indicates that some armed groups who were deported to Rwanda were again recruited and deployed in eastern DRC by Rwandan Army, and these are among those fighting currently alongside M23 in North Kivu currently,

The third allegation indicates that a number of those deported to Rwanda have either decided to come back to Congo and camouflaged into the local population, or have left Rwanda towards Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia among other countries,

Allegation four indicates that those who have been deployed in eastern DRC by Rwandan army have also been at the center of recruiting other people among Rwandan refugees in North Kivu to join the M23,

Allegations number five indicates that no credible information is available on the situation of those who have been deported to Rwanda especially by the UN Mission and other UN Agencies mainly UNHCR which has mandate to follow up cases of those who have been taken back to their countries,


How is the sensitization of armed groups done especially those who are from Rwanda?

For the DDRRR/ UN Mission Officer, this is the work of the Congolese National Commission for Refugees known as CNR, but still CNR is responsible for refugees and yet it is not yet clear which status holds these armed groups in order to fall into the mandate of CNR. Once CNR has received members of armed groups, now they are referred to the UN Mission in order to prepare them to go back to Rwanda. However how is this done? For DDRRR officer the exercise is voluntary, campaigns are done in order to share information to armed groups and then some come out with their guns by themselves. However this is far different from the realities as argued by those who have been victims of these forms of deportations.

First of all CNR is perceived as highly influenced by Rwanda, some actors are believed to be close to Rwanda and served in various Rwanda Armed groups in DRC, secondly there are various strategies among them: Rwanda sends spies in North Kivu to interact with members of armed groups in some cases these spies are granted a refugee status in other cases these spies are granted the Congolese voter’s Card, these spies do target particular people among armed groups which they should focus on and how best they can get them back to Rwanda,

The other strategy is that according to witnesses most of the sites and the whole human resource of CNR that is in charge of demobilization campaign are either Rwandans or working closely with Rwanda, however many pretend to be Congolese, and their convincing message is to present to the fighters a package of money and other good things to entice their appetite of going back not because they are convinced but because they want money,

The other strategy is to go through other refugees or other Rwandans who are close to Rwanda, actually in North Kivu there is a big number of refugees who serve as focal points to Rwanda among other refugees and these are mainly Hutus, these will move around and convince their fellow in armed groups,

The last strategy was the Propaganda of the United Nations Mission Radio Okapi called “ogutahuka” which means “going back home” which we advocated for it to close, we are pleased that this programme was stopped.

Who are those Rwandan Armed Groups members convinced to repatriate?

Let us share that there are various factions of FDLR which is the main Rwandan Armed Group in Eastern DRC, among these factions some are radical against Rwanda while others are willing to exchange and work with Rwanda, on top of that Rwanda has created its own armed groups in eastern DRCongo, so it is more easier to recruit candidates for deportation among those who are willing to work with Rwanda and those who already have interactions with Rwanda at the command levels. However for those who are perceived as radical, Rwanda has used the option to assassinate them on Congolese Territory, and this is group Rwanda refers to when making statement about FDLR in Eastern DRCongo,

On top of all these, some FDLR members do surrender to either UN Mission or to Congolese Authorities and in the process they are deported back to Rwanda.


In all these above mentioned, we do not find anything that is in line with the voluntary character, we shared these observations with the DDRRR officers who in return rejected the responsibility to Congolese Authorities, the United Nations and the Donors who want things to be done in that way. He condemned the strategy to arrest Rwandan refugees and present them as fighters, but he continued to defend that the exercise to send fighters back to Rwanda was voluntary much as he could not demonstrate it.

Can we organize information with those who were deported but then came back here in Goma, and others who are in Uganda?

The DDRRR officer indicated that there is no need because he is aware about those who come back due to economic opportunities, we insisted that it was not because of economic opportunities but because they want to save their lives, and if it was because of economic why do you send people to Rwanda yet you could expose them in Goma to better economic opportunities. He did not say much about it apart from saying it was the United Nations Resolutions, on the way he did not say much why it was the option to send them back to Rwanda which is given priority rather than the option for resettlement.

Which information do you have about FDLR and where do you get this information from?

The DDRRR officer also gets information from third parties and from FDLR groups that are willing to exchange with the UN Officers who are themselves perceived as pro-Rwanda, the proximity between the UN Mission and Rwanda cannot favor it to be in contact with radical FDLR groups.

However there was a consensus on the following:

Most of the FDLR fighters did not participate in the genocide and it is wrong to link them to the genocide in Rwanda, we all regretted the general perception which present FDLR as responsible for the genocide in Rwanda,

Not all those in FDLR are Rwandans and claims from Rwandan President Paul Kagame about FDLR are not true, many among them are Congolese Nationals, again many people may not know this,

The immediate objective of FDLR is not necessary to overthrow the Government of Rwanda but to defend themselves and provide security to refugees during Rwandan Army attacks in Eastern DRCongo, we are with the view that once Rwandan Army attacks are stopped in DRC, once Rwandan refugees in DRC are protected, the FDLR will melt away,

The DDRRR contradicts the UN Mission Exit Plan Strategy in DRCongo, how can you reconcile the two?

The UN Mission Exit Plan Chapter Seven highly focuses on the protection of refugees which is in contradiction with the DDRRR activities. Again on this point not much was said by the DDRRR officer apart from claiming that these things are being handled by the UN General Secretary and the DRC Government. Still questions remain, where do they get information in order to take decisions and at what extend the information they have is accurate.

Lastly our discussions focused on what can be done in order to solve the problem of FDLR in eastern DRCongo. We shared our ideas of effective protection of refugees’ especially Rwandan refugees in DRCongo. He exchanged with us initiatives that were done and failed, exactly we observed that nothing can be done as per now if we do not have profound reforms of the UNHCR, CNR and other UN Agencies involved including the change of actors. Currently most of actors in these UN Agencies are perceived either being Rwandans or close to Rwanda and that alone is enough to lose the trust of refugees, it is the same way with the Congolese Security Services.

Apart from the institutions and the human resource, we need to amend the DRCongo Refugee Policy so that it can offer full protection to refugees especially Rwandan refugees, and as we keep on saying there are already existing durable solutions to refugees, we only need to implement them.



Kulihoshi Musikami Pecos

Provincial Coordinator/ COJESKI North Kivu

Specialized in refugee rights in the Great Lakes Region of Africa


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