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DRC ex-rebels found in Uganda refugee camp

18 December 2014, 10:12

Kampala - Around 1 000 ex-fighters from a Democratic Republic of Congo rebel group were found in a Ugandan refugee camp Wednesday, a day after fleeing moves to repatriate them, the Ugandan army said.

The ex-rebels from the M23 group fled the Bihanga camp 300km southwest of Kampala on Tuesday, as the Ugandan army attempted to repatriate some of the group.

Ugandan army spokesperson Paddy Ankunda told AFP that around 1 000 ex-rebels were in the nearby Rwamwanja refugee camp, run by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), on Wednesday.

Thirty five returned to Bihanga, he said on his Twitter account.

On Tuesday night, 120 former rebels flew out of Kampala to return to DRC.

Rwamwanja houses around 50 000 refugees who fled fighting between M23 militants and the DRC army in the east of DRC.

Also Read:DRC: Peacekeepers regret failing to stop massacre

The ex-rebels were reportedly worried about their safety if they were sent back home.

M23 chief Bertrand Bisimwa said from Kampala Tuesday that several of the ex-rebels were wounded by gunshots after those in the camp refused to board army trucks sent to take them to the airport.

Around 1,300 rebels had been at Bihanga since November 2013.

The rebels' 18-month war, during which they briefly seized the key DRC town of Goma, capital of mineral-rich North Kivu province, was brought to an end in 2013 by government troops and UN peacekeepers. The fighters fled into neighbouring Uganda and Rwanda.

They signed papers in May vowing not to fight again in return for a possible amnesty.

The repatriation process has slowed in recent weeks, and Kinshasa is demanding the return of around 560 amnestied ex-fighters by 25 December.



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