Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Controversy erupts over returnees

Controversy has broken out over the alleged presence of up to several thousand Kinyarwanda-speaking returnees in M23 territory.

For several weeks, there has been a steady movement of Congolese refugees into the Kibumba area north of Goma, the southern edge of M23 territory. According to several UN sources, there may be up to 3,000 such returnees in this area, mostly Congolese Tutsi who fled the country, some as long ago as 1994, and were living in refugee camps in Rwanda.

Another group of around 100-200 families then arrived on 30 September further north, in Jomba. According to some sources, these families may be Rwandans who were expelled from Tanzania weeks ago.

Very few of these families are probably from this area––a UN official told me that some of them had tried unsuccessfully to cross toward Masisi, which is probably where many of them are from. Their presence has raised questions. Some think that the M23 could use them as human shields in case of another round of fighting. A UN official told me that, given how close they are to M23 positions, it would make it difficult to employ UN attack helicopters in those areas to the same extent as they did during the August fighting against M23. If their arrival is confirmed, at the very least this is a lack of foresight and regulation by the various authorities, including UNHCR and the Rwandan National Council for Refugees.


Unknown said...

So that was the main factor in these recurrent wars ravaging eastern Congo?
After pretending to be Congoleses and proud to be you are now going around Africa picking any Rwandese to send to Kagame's land of milk and honey: Kivu your new far west shame on you a good arrest warrant is still waiting for you killers.
Latter or sooner u shall meet your fate as you did to 8 millions Congoleses you never gave even a small chance

Kongo in NYC said...

Thanks for this post, Jason. My comment is a response to your post re: the M23 army integration challenge.

I guess I’m curious why Rwanda (assumingly) is encouraging M23 to demand integration (for most) and amnesty (for the most egregious offenders).

It’s clearly a sticking point, yes? Well, what about other options like:

- Integrating M23 into the local police and administration
- Offering everyone 20 acres, an ox, and a state-backed loan on random plots throughout the nation (but near built up infrastructure obviously)
- Jobs in various state-owned businesses

Indeed, options 1 and 2 would serve everyone. Rwanda would get a local administration that would watch/fight FDLR and ensure the mineral/timber markets remain open, the locals would actually get a (mostly) functioning state that could deliver services, M23 gets a steady pay check with pensions, and Kinshasa defuses the political threat M23 poses to the regime.

To be clear, it doesn’t have to be these things and, obviously, I’m not at the negotiating table.

But again, I’m just curious as to why the demand for integration and amnesty is even on the table when there are other options.

Rich said...

Kigali must completely disband M23 and deal directly with Kinshasa regarding its legitimate security and economic concerns. There will never be peace in the region as long as the regime in kigali refuses to respect a sovereign nation that is DRC or find a lasting solution about ethnic hatred inside rwanda.

congo man said...

Those are just Rwandese soldiers disguised as returning refugees and Kinshasa shall take all the blame for this .as long as KINSHASA continue to take a stupid so called moderate approach to this aggression ,Kigali will never stop this type of behavior.from day one.almost every one knew that a return to the so called Kampala negotiations was just a way to give the M23/RDF more time to regroup and reorganize after their last military defeat .instead of keeping more pressure on those terrorists ,we again rushed to Kampala, distracted our selves with the so called "consertation nationale " and gave them time to reorganize and think of new strategies.this are now the results of Kinshasa's own stupidity.history has proven that a psycho-maniac Tyrant in a killing spree like ADOLF HITLER or PAUL KAGAME can only be stopped militarily, but we continue to use a diplomatic approach to a situation that has proven to defy all diplomatic means. after 2 decades of endless negotiations ,endless concessions by Kinshasa,billions of dollars wasted on a failed UN peace mission with a mandate that only appeased terrorists and killers of UN peacekeepers, 5 million people dead and millions more displaced,countless peace deals that did not bring peace but only allowed PAUL KAGAME and his terrorists to commit more war crimes and crimes against humanity. only a fool will still believe that more negotiations with those terrorists and war criminals is what is needed in order for them to sop their campaign of terror .the FARDC and their allies shall stop wasting time and engage this terrorists once and for all. after 2 decades of failed negotiations the only remaining solution to this problem is now a military one. anyways what happened to the intervention brigades?

Belén Uka said...

Hi Jason!

Hey, Im Belén from Guadalajara, Mexico. I wrote an email to you asking for some comments on my research project. After reading your paper on the CNDP-M23, I did some on line research about the Rift Valley Institute and found lots of information! I think you are doing an amazing job. That paper I mentioned per se has helped me a lot and I can't believe how much work you and your colleagues have been doing. Thank you very much!

blaise said...

@Kongo in NYC
You have 2 bear in mind that anything that will look like a reward will definitively send a bad message to the rest of the army or active militias. I suspect that the 2009 accord is 1 of the reason militias are popping up like mushroom.
I will suggest to either judge and grace who need 2 be or engage 2 those truth/reconciliation mechanisms. At the end, militias should not be allow 2 integrate the army. It should be like excluding felons for most jobs.
Maybe those #M23 lads should be encouraged to build a private security service like Sozais used 2 be or a light black water,idk.
In any case, there is a good reason why States don't negotiated with terrorist, that creates a bad precedent.
I can't emphasised more the need for GoDRC to take necessary steps to put a closure at this mess.
Let's wait and see what pres Kabila has in store for us this thursday. Personally I won't hold my breath.But who knows...

Virunga Mountains said...

This does not make sense, as 100-200 families of Tutsi in Jomba is a concocted figure. Are the Hutu families going to be 5000-8000 families? I bet not, because they've been ethnically cleansed through a systematic state sponsored genocide by Kagame and his band of killers. The last-time I spoke to over 10 Tutsi elders from Jomba, they swore never to go back till M23 was no more-same was said by elders from Rutshuru.
Till an international arrest warrant is issued for the arrest of M23 leadership and its Rwandan/Uganda backers, this nonsense won't go away.

congo man said...

Finally the so called Kampala talks ( Congo's balkanization conference) have Collapsed . This is a welcome news for the congoles people and I hope JK.starts to understand that the only solution to this aggression is a military more concessions shall be given to Kagame and his M23 terrorists. Let's wait and see what's next. But we need not to be fooled by Kagame's international backers. This is a military agression that will only end militarily.

Unknown said...

congo man you must be jobless im sorry to say this but have you notice that you the only one who fills up this website with negative none sense comments.. now tell me congo man patriot want be what have you done for your beloved country beside writing garbage on congo siasa?mr congo man what do you know about congo politics??I've told you this before and I'm gona tell you this again M23 is not going anywhere I repeat M23 is not going anywhere so don't get excited for ntn sir you still have a long way to go to win this war

congo man said...

@kizza, amongst all Kagamists on this blog, I really have a lot of respect for you.unlike all the other Kagamists who try to disguise themselves as Kongoles in Boston, New York , least you openly express your self as a Tutsi supporter of the tribal tyranny of PAUL KAGAME and his M23 terrorists. I know how you feel about that bloody tyrant ( PAUL KAGAME) but history will one day confirm what I have been saying allalong.the future of Rwanda depends on its good relationship with the DRC and there's no other way around it. You have to start planning beyond PAUL KAGAME otherwise you are doomed my brother. I love our region wich also includes order for that region to prosper we need a leader who is going to fix and repair all the damages caused by Paul Kagame's 20 years of barbaric terror campaigns.a leader who is going to bring our people together, turn the page on PAUL KAGAME' s barbarism, start real reconciliation not only in Rwanda but in the entire region, give opportunity to all Rwandese af all ethnic groups to prosper and end this sad bloody 2 decades that our people have experienced under the bloody tyranical dictatorship of Paul Kagame. otherwise you are doomed my friend.

Willet W. said...


I was down in Kalemie a couple of weeks ago, where a similar process seems to be underway. It gets a little murky, depending on who you talk to, but here's what it sounds like:

Remember the so-called Banyavyura, Rwandophone pastoralists who had been living in the hills toward Moba? In 1998, after the RCD takeover of the East, a considerable number of these indviduals, with their cattle, were moved, quite systematically, on barges to Uvira and resettled in the Ruzizi plane and along the adjacent slopes. Many of them later fled to Tanzania, where they remained as refugees. In recent months, as the Tanzanians have talked loudly of forced repatriations, a number of these families (still with their livestock) were said to have been returning spontaneously to Kalemie, in preparation, it was said, to returning to the Moba area. This was enough to set off riots in Moba, protesting these expected returns.

There are definitely clumps of these individuals, with cattle, visible throughout the Kalemie hinterland, though no one I was able to talk with had any numbers. Local people complain of disputes resulting from the usual agriculturalist/pastoralist issues, at a time when agricultural activity is just starting to pick up again in war-devastated Tanganyika District.

As with the comparable processes you describe in North Kivu, it all happens very quietly: people just show up. What is less clear is who these people are, or where they are actually coming from. Local people in Kalemie reject the term "Banyavyura". which implies residence rights in the Vyura hills, and refer to them instead as Banyamulenge, as it is understood that the so-called Banyavyura had indeed migrated into the Vyura area from the South Kivu plateau. But local people accept that these are former Vyura pastoralists returning from exile in Tanzania. However, Banyamulenge sources in Bukavu state categorically that the new arrivals are, for the most part, not Banyamulenge (or Banyavyura) at all, nor have they been expelled from or fled under threat of of expulsion from Tanzania, but that they are in fact new arrivals from Rwanda. There are even allegations (totally unverifiable, of course) that some of them are RDF, and that the pattern of mysterious arrival amid vague claims of being refugee returnees tracks very closely with what is said to be happening in the M23-controlled areas (and in Masisi for a long time before M23 was even invented).

Does anyone have more authoritative information on all this?

Unknown said...

Jason, I'm an immigration attorney applying for asylum on behalf of a Congolese refugee. I am interested in hiring you for the case. Would you please contact me at Thanks.

congo man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
congo man said...

I meant time of tweeter. ..

blaise said...

Interesting insight. Sounds really similar 2 the piece the rift valley wrote abt the banyamulenge story. My 2 sense tell me that maybe they need to change their practice : instead of moving the cattle around,adopt more sedentary farming practice. I hope that whoever they are they will come to realize that Rwanda will only look after Rwanda interest and don't give a hoot abt their well being.

That's said, it's congo week in harlem, please support the campaign by following the link below.Thx

blaise said...

Interesting ideas from pm Matata Ponyo, one just wish him to go even further, be a little bit bolder

Glenys said...


Just read your note in this blog. Thank you for taking the time to lay this out. Although no clear answer, it is helpful to get the various views on the situation. (even if I am reading a couple months late...)

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