The presence of foreign armed groups on DRC territory was discussed during the tripartite (plus one) meeting which was completed in Lubumbashi on June 7 2007, including delegations from the governments of Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
With the completion of this meeting, it is now an opportune time to give a progress report on MONUC's efforts in assisting the DRC government to resolve the issue of armed groups still active on Congolese soil.
At the beginning of MONUC's Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRRR) process in 2002, the estimated number of armed elements and their families, pertaining to the ex Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) and the Rwandan Interahamwe militia, as well as Ugandan and Burundian rebels, totaled almost 18,000.
To date, besides those who returned home themselves, or who died in exile or were killed in combat, there are nearly 10,000 combatants with 5,000 family members who left the DRC, and whose repatriation was completed thanks to MONUC's DDRRR programme. The return of such a great number of ex-combatants and their dependents to their countries of origin is a demonstration of the effectiveness of these DDRRR activities.
This MONUC programme of voluntary repatriation has always been active, and allows members of foreign armed groups based in the DRC to join the process at any time. MONUC ensures their safety and transports them to their countries of origin where World Bank reintegration programmes continue to operate.
Due to increasing resistance from the hardest and most extreme elements, in particular their commanders, it became necessary, for some time, to accentuate the pressure exerted on these groups by increasing the military and political aid MONUC provides to the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
MONUC estimates that approximately 6,000 to 7,000 foreign armed combatants remain on the ground in the RDC, figures in accordance with the actual estimates of the Congolese Government. MONUC will continue to act, in cooperation with the Congolese authorities, in order to put an end to the presence and activities of foreign armed groups on Congolese territory.