Concrete steps underway for the repatriation of ex-combatants in the Great Lakes region
Nairobi, 25 June 2018 – Members of the Follow-up Mechanism for the repatriation of ex-combatants in the Great Lakes region met on 25 June in Nairobi to review progress on a decision by heads of State last year to “complete the repatriation without preconditions of the FDLR disarmed combatants and their dependents located in transit camps in eastern DRC, and of the ex-M23 combatants that are in Rwanda and Uganda”.
Following this decision, a Follow-up Mechanism for the process of repatriation of these ex-combatants was launched in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on 24 April 2018. The launch was immediately followed by field visits to camps of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the DRC and the ex-M23 in Rwanda and Uganda. The field visits revealed that 75% of the FDLR elements in the camps are women and dependent children. It was also noted that some ex-combatants were reluctant to the repatriation process, fearing for their own security.
The participants at today’s meeting, the second one of the Follow-up Mechanism, included government representatives from the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, as well as officials from the United Nations, notably the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region. Other participants were from the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed on a set of concrete steps to undertake and to complete within the next month, including visits to camps in the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda to sensitize the ex-combatants on the need to repatriate without conditions; screening activities to identify those willing to repatriate; and facilitating the immediate repatriation of those willing and ready to be repatriated.