Rwanda has received more than 11,500 refugees from eastern DR Congo since 2022, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The latest cohort of Congolese refugees arrived in Rubavu District, Western Province in November 2023, when the conflict between the DR Congo armed forces and the M23 rebel groups approached the Rwandan border.
The UNHCR said it worked with the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management to ensure the refugees receive the necessary documentation to access assistance and services.
The refugees are sheltered in different camps including Nkamira Transit Centre in Rubavu District and Mahama Refugee Camp in Eastern Province.
Rwanda is already home to nearly 130,000 refugees; of those, more than 82,000 are Congolese. Some of the Congolese refugees have lived in camps for more than 25 years.
Eastern DR Congo is home to more than 130 local and foreign armed groups, such as the FDLR terrorists, which are responsible for atrocities and human rights abuses.
Congolese Tutsi communities in particular have been the target of hate speech and ethnically motivated violence as documented by the UN. As a result, most of them have fled their communities to neighbouring countries.
The Congolese armed forces have been fighting against the M23 rebels in North Kivu, with the latter demanding direct talks with the government.
The M23 resurged in November 2021, after nearly a decade of hibernation since defeat in 2013. They launched an offensive accusing the Congolese government of reneging on its promises and said their communities were still threatened by the FDLR militia and local groups such as Mai Mai, Nyatura.
Despite calls by regional and international communities to end the conflict through peaceful means, the government in Kinshasa has downplayed the rebel group’s demands for talks, calling it a terrorist movement.