DR Congo accuses Rwanda of 'political' blackmail over refugees

Thursday January 12 2023

War-displaced Congolese flee towards the city of Goma, eastern Republic of Congo, on November 15, 2022. PHOTO | AFP


Kinshasa accused Rwanda of using refugees for political purposes on Wednesday, after its neighbour said it would no longer take in people fleeing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Monday that his country "cannot keep hosting refugees" -- stoking already high tensions between the two countries.

Read: Rwanda will not accept any more DRC refugees

The DRC government responded angrily on Wednesday, and said the comments were "proof that human rights have no value for the Rwandan president".

Kagame has been "blackmailing the international community on human lives", said Patrick Muyaya, spokesman for the DRC government.

The refugees were being "used for political purposes", Muyaya said, accusing Kigali of trying to divert international attention "from the responsibility of Rwanda".


Persistent fighting in the east of the mineral-rich DRC pits federal troops against rebels from the M23 group, which has captured swathes of territory.

The DRC -- along with the United States and several European countries -- has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the Tutsi-led rebels, although Kigali denies the charge.

Tensions have soared and thousands have fled the battles into neighbouring states, including Rwanda.

Kagame told the upper house of parliament Monday that the refugees are "not Rwanda's problem. And we are going to ensure that everybody realises that it is not Rwanda's problem".

"I am refusing that Rwanda should carry this burden," he said.

In November, the UN said around 72,000 Congolese had crossed into Rwanda.