Kisoro, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Military officials from 12 countries on Monday have held a special closed door meeting of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism -EJVM in Uganda’s south western border town of Kisoro.
URN has learn that the confidential discussions stemmed from the fighting between the March 23 Movement -M23 rebels and Congolese government troops in Rutshuru territory, North Kivu province.
The EJVM, all military experts from the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Member States converged in Kisoro and held a lengthy closed-door meeting with Kisoro district security authorities.
The meeting has held at the District council hall. Officials were from host Uganda, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Republic of South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Towards evening hours, the officials drove to Bunagana border and assessed the situation. They also visited areas where refugees were occupying. They also drove to the Uganda-Congo border of Busanza in Mpaka town council and assessed how Congolese refugees were crossing back to their country from Uganda.
They later proceeded to Nyakabande transit center and also assessed the situation the thousands of refugees are going through.
Military officials declined to say anything to the public or make any comments to the media. But, Hajji Shafique Ssekandi, Kisoro Resident District Commissioner told our reporter last night that the officials had come to carry out investigations that were published by Congolese media accusing Ugandan security officials of killing and whipping refugees while chasing them from communities to either enter the transit center or crossing back to their country.
Ssekandi says that officials found all the accusations baseless and instead hailed Kisoro security authorities for esuring that refugees are being put in a gazetted place.
Asked if their stepping in Kisoro is in line with the implementation stage towards deploying of East African Joint troops in Eastern DR Congo to face off with M23 rebels and other rebel groups, Ssekandi responded in the negative, saying that EJVM’s role is to investigate and handover reports to higher state authorities.
So far, 13,203 refugees have been removed from the borderline. Out of the total, 8,639 have returned to DR Congo in defiance to entering Nyakabande transit center, according to the latest figures from the office of the area Resident District Commissioner Refugees Department Office of the prime minister.
The fighting started in March this year in the hills of Tchanzu and Runyoni and later extended to neighboring areas. It left the Uganda-DR Congo border of Bunagana and neighboring areas in the hands of the rebels from June 13 to date after over 150 government troops fled to Uganda.
However, on reaching Uganda, about 20,000 fleeing Congolese declined to enter Nyakabande transit center in Nyakabande sub county but camped in Bunagana, Mpaka, Rukundo town councils in Muramba, and Nyarubuye sub counties.
Ugandan authorities last week launched an operation compelling all refugees in communities to be relocated to the gazetted transit center or be forced to cross back to the war-troubled Rutshuru territory.
Authorities cited security and health threat as the reasons for chase them away from the borderline.