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Rwanda: Parents called upon to prevent their children's involvement in DRC war

News and Press Release
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Kinshasa, 30 December 2009 - Parents in Rwanda have been warned to prevent their children from participating in the ongoing war in Eastern DRC between dissidents of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, (FDLR) and the Congolese army, (FARDC) and its allies.

The warning came from the chairman of the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, (RDRC), during an event marking the 34th phase of graduation of ex-FDLR combatants from the Mutobo demobilization camp.

Mr. Jean Sayinzoga said it is a bad precedent when parents allow their children to cross the Rwandan border to enter into neighbouring DRC for violent purposes.

His comments were prompted by reports that 12 of the ex-combatants who graduated from the Mutobo demobilization camp were child-soldiers believed to have crossed over from Rwanda to the DR Congo. At the graduation ceremony, 362 FDLR ex-combatants received certificates in various disciplines including management and literacy.

Speaking through a representative, the ex-combatants thanked MONUC and those who facilitated their safe return to Rwanda, saying current military operations in eastern DRC deeply influenced their return.

Among the many dignitaries at the graduation ceremony was the U.S ambassador to Kigali, Michael Arietti who praised the ex-combatants for their courageous decision to break away from the ranks of the FDLR to enter the voluntary disarmament, demobilization, and repatriation process. "Those of you who are here in Rwanda today are saved from the boat that is sinking", he added. According to ex-combatants who have recently surrendered to the DDRRR Section, the FDLR is "now on the verge of collapse".

There are signs that international pressure is increasing on the FDLR. A few weeks ago the President and supreme commander of the FDLR, Ignace Murwanshyaka, was arrested in Germany along with his Vice President, Straton Musoni. They were arrested by the German government on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

For the year 2009, the DDRRR section has recorded a considerable increase in the number of ex-combatants sent to Rwanda and other countries for reintegration. According to DDRRR statistics, some 1,500 FDLR ex-combatants were returned to their respective countries this year.