Home Borders Rwanda will not accept any more DR Congo refugees

Rwanda will not accept any more DR Congo refugees

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Rwanda can no longer offer refuge to people fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Paul Kagame said last week stoking already high tensions between the two neighbours.

Persistent fighting in the east of the mineral-rich DRC pits federal troops against rebels from the M23 group, which has captured swathes of territory.

The DRC, along with the United States and several European countries, has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the rebels from M23, although Kigali denies the charge.

Tensions have soared and thousands have fled the battles into neighbouring states, including Rwanda.

In November, the UN said around 72,000 Congolese had crossed into Rwanda.

“We cannot keep hosting refugees,” from DR Congo, Mr Kagame told the upper house of parliament in the capital Kigali.

“This is not Rwanda’s problem. And we are going to ensure that everybody realises that it is not Rwanda’s problem,” he vowed.

“I am refusing that Rwanda should carry this burden and be insulted and abused everyday about it,” he said.

Kigali has repeatedly blamed Kinshasa for the crisis and accused the international community of turning a blind eye to DR Congo’s alleged support for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a mainly Rwandan rebel movement implicated in the 1994 genocide of Tutsis.

Kigali sees the FDLR as a threat which justifies incursions into the DRC.

Rwanda has also accused the DRC — where presidential elections are due next December — of using the conflict for political purposes as well as of “fabricating” a November massacre of at least 131 civilians.

A UN probe blamed the deaths on M23 rebels.

A tentative ceasefire and the deployment of Kenyan forces through the East African Community (EAC) have so far failed to halt the bloodshed.

The UK government has signed a deal with Rwanda to fly illegal arrivals there before their asylum claims are even considered.

If eventually granted refuge, they will remain in Rwanda rather than return to the UK.