DRC refugees face uncertain future

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Armed gangs in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo need to rejoin society before displaced refugees feel safe to return home, the U.N. refugee agency said.

The DRC government, regional and international delegates are working from Uganda to broker a truce with the March 23 Movement. M23 consists of former rebels who joined the military but mutinied last year, saying the government reneged on a 2009 peace agreement.


Christophe Beau, a regional adviser for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said the internally displaced were afraid to return to their homes in eastern DRC despite signs of peace.

"Even when a zone has been made secure people always fear to return to it because they could still be threatened by people who were in the armed groups," he said in an interview published Monday by the United Nations' Integrated Regional Information Networks.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported Nov. 6 there are 40,000 internally displaced persons and 10,000 refugees in neighboring Uganda affected by fighting in eastern DRC.

Beau said the government in DRC needs to put more focus on reintegrating rebels into civil society to ensure a sustainable sense of security.

"The government should put these kinds of programs in place as soon as possible," he said.

Aid consortium Oxfam said peace with M23 won't solve DRC's national security challenges overnight because of the dozens of armed groups fighting in the country.

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