By VOM News Team
The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) yesterday accused rebel group, March 23 Movement (M23) of conducting attacks in DRC’s northeastern border region with Uganda.
The violence saw a huge spillover of refugees who crossed into Uganda via Bunagana Border.
According to the Kisoro Security teams led by deputy Resident District Commissioner Dan Ndikumwami, reports indicate that M23 is responsible for the mass exodus.
“The M23 attacked military positions of Chanzu and Runyonyi, in North Kivu province with the intention of carrying out destabilizing actions elsewhere. This has led to the mass movement of refugees into the district”, Ndikumwami explained
The M23 has not come out to take responsibility of the attacks.
International Media reports, have quoted M23’s president, Bertrand Bisimwa denying the accusations saying that, his men had not launched such an attack in the region.
Bisimwa admits M23’s presence in the region since 2017 but claims that his soldiers have avoided initiating useless wars.
He explained that the M23 has been waiting impatiently on the sincerity of the DRC president Felix Tshisekedi to implement the outcomes reached by M23 and DRC’s government peace talks that took place more than a year ago.
Refuge Impact on Kisoro’s Economy.
Kisoro Deputy RDC Dan Ndikumwami says the district authorities decided to close the main business center within Bunagana and Kisoro Municipality to ensure the safety of the locals.
“The refugees came into our district on a market day and we had to ensure our residents are protected from any eventualities including cases of Covid-19 and Ebola which are prevalent in DRC, also we hoped to avoid any wrong elements from mixing with our people, Ndikumwami noted.
The decision to close Bunagana Market and Gatimba Market in Kisoro Municipality nearly sparked a stampede as people thought rebels had attacked Kisoro district.
The chairman of the Business Community in Kisoro Byensi Expedito says, the sudden influx of refugees has paralyzed business at Bunagana Border
Byensi notes that the insecurity in Eastern DRC poses a huge economic threat to the region which had bolstered its hopes in the planned construction of Uganda- DRC roads set to kick off soon.
According to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Revenue Performance Report for the financial year 2019/20, the customs collections in the FY 2019/20 declined by UGX 437.39 billion (-6.35%) compared to the FY 2018/19.
Customs performance was influenced by the international trade disruptions in value chain attributed to COVID-19 global lockdown, increase in import substitution and policy reversals.
Uganda’s re- exports volumes to the rest of the world during FY 2019/20 declined by 23.61% (UGX 345.89 billion) from UGX 1,464.97 billion during the FY 2018/19 to UGX 1,119.08 billion during the FY 2019/20.
This was mainly caused by the restrictive measures put by East African countries to control movement and the spread of Corona Virus.
Uganda, however registered a major increase of 20.28% by doing business with the Democratic Republic of Congo in the re-export of items including palm oil, malt beer, Rice, Beet sugar, bread and pastries.
Other leading export items to the DRC include Portland cement, Rolled Iron/ non-alloy steel, Iron/steel bars and live poultry.
Kisoro LCV chairperson Abel Bizimana says, Uganda has an Obligation to offer humanitarian support to neighboring DRC.
He noted that Kisoro district would not be in position to offer much assistance if it was not for agencies like UNHCR and the Red Cross whose response to the emergency was timely.
Members of the Kisoro district Disaster Management Committee are set to meet today to come up with remedies to the emergency situation at Bunagana border.
The Resurgence of M23 out of Character.
The rebel group M23 is not new to the region.
The group of former rebels of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) first rose to the scene, back in March 2009 after an agreement between the CNDP and the Congolese government was not respected.
The last attack carried out by the M23 dates back to July 2020 when their offensive against FARDC reached as far as Goma.
M23 took responsibility of its attacks and explained its motivations.
A security expert who preferred anonymity says, the weekend attacks are not usual because the timing is suspicious adding that, the element of economic sabotage should not be ignored.
“The weekend attack is out of character and I believe there is an undercurrent that the regional leaders need to pay attention to”, Security expert explained