Cablegate: New Wave of Banyamulenge Refugees Attempting To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary. A group of 1200 Banyamulenge refugees has
gathered at the Burundi-DRC border in an attempt to cross
into Uvira. The GDRC has kept the border closed, but an inter
ministerial delegation plans to travel to Uvira October 8 to
reopen the border, welcome the refugees, and coordinate
assistance efforts with humanitarian agencies. End Summary.

Banyamulenge Refugees Determined to Return Home
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) Aida Mariam, deputy representative of the UN High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) told poloff October 7 that
1,200 Banyamulenge refugees had made their way over the past
two days to the Burundi-DRC border near Uvira. These refugees
are currently in a "no mans land" border area in Burundi,
waiting to cross into the Congo. The Congolese border is
currently closed and it is not expected that it will open
until a GDRC inter ministerial mission arrives in the area on
October 8.

3. (SBU) Mariam said this new wave of Banyamulenge refugees
had organized themselves and even found trucks for transport
from various villages inside Burundi. She added that the
RCD-G Vice-Governor of South Kivu claimed not to have been
involved in encouraging this particular group of refugees to
return. Mariam noted that while UNHCR respects the wishes of
refugees to return home, it also wants GDRC officials to be
on the ground to guarantee the safety of returning refugees
and to send a clear message to the local population.

GDRC to Send Inter-Ministerial Delegation to Welcome Refugees
--------------------------------------------- ----------------

4. (SBU) Vice-Minister of Interior Paul Musafiri told poloff
October 7 that he would travel to Uvira on October 8 with an
inter ministerial delegation that includes an advisor to
President Kabila, advisors to Vice-President Ruberwa, and the
Vice-Minister of Defense for Demobilization. Musafiri said
that upon his arrival the GDRC will open the border and
welcome the refugees. He noted the refugees would likely go
to an Uvira transit center for a few days and then return to
their own villages. Musafiri indicated that he planned to
talk to local actors in Uvira about the importance of
welcoming the refugees and that the GDRC would also
coordinate assistance with humanitarian agencies. Moreover,
he explained that the GDRC would keep the border open to
allow more orderly repatriation of refugees and to prevent
the gathering of large groups on the border.


5. (SBU) This new wave of Banyamulenge refugees have
apparently organized themselves to return to the DRC without
any assistance from UNCHR or other humanitarian agencies. It
is possible that many of them do not want to be moved to the
Moaro refugee camp near the Tanzanian border and may have
feared UNHCR relocation plans. If the refugees perceive that
they may be more exposed to attacks in Burundi, it is
reasonable to expect that they will attempt to return home. A
well-coordinated effort to receive the refugees by the GDRC,
UN agencies, and other humanitarian actors, will be necessary
to lessen the likelihood of violence against the refugees,
and further manipulation of their return by local actors.

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