Kinshasa, 10 February 2009 - A MONUC Disarmament, Demobilization, Repatriation, Resettlement and Reintegration (DDRRR) team for foreign combatants went, on Sunday February 8, 2009, to Kasiki (200 km north of Goma), to ensure the transfer to Goma (for the voluntary repatriation to Rwanda), of some 150 ex combatants and dependents of the Gathering for Unity and Democracy (RUD) and the Gathering of the Rwandan People (RPR), who are dissenting factions of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

Upon arrival in Kasiski the team found to their surprise that the ex combatants and their dependents had fled the camp which sheltered them the night before.

These ex combatants had voluntarily disarmed in July 2008. Since then, they and their dependants were taken care of by the Congolese government and Christ’s Church in Congo, in a camp set up for them at Kasiki.

While in the camp they got additional sensitisation on the option of voluntary return to their country of origin, offered by MONUC and the Congolese and Rwandan Governments

At the end of this sensitising, the remainder of the group had accepted the option of voluntary repatriation, with the exception of three people. A visit to Rwanda by their representatives had been organised successfully two weeks ago, and the transfer of the group to Goma for their return to their country of origin was planned, with their agreement, for Sunday 8 February 2009.

The reason for the disappearance of these ex combatants remains unknown. On Sunday 8 February 2009, after consultation with the Congolese authorities, MONUC’s DDRRR teams decided to remain in the area, and has been redoubling efforts with local partners to find these ex combatants and their dependents, in order to sensitise them so that they can return to the process which they had started.

MONUC highly encourages this group of ex combatants and dependents of the RUD and RPR to reinstate themselves in the DDRRR process. MONUC appeals to all Rwandan combatants on Congolese soil that its doors remain open to accomodate them and facilitate their disarmament and voluntary return to their country of origin, in all dignity.

All combatants wishing to join the process can contact DDRRR teams deployed on the ground, in Kasiki and elsewhere, or call 081 890 6607. This number functions 24 hours a day seven days a week. They can be also present themselves to the nearest Blue Helmets base.