DR Congo rebels reopen border post with Uganda

Asylum Seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) wait on a truck after crossing a border to be transferred in Bunagana, Uganda, June 7, 2022, following deadly fights between M23 rebels, one of more than 120 armed groups roaming eastern DRC, and DRC troops. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Thousands of people living near DRC’s eastern border with Uganda continuously flee their homes following insurgents attacks sending desperate residents in troubled North Kivu province fleeing over the border into Uganda.
  • The leaders of seven nations comprising the EAC bloc met on Monday to discuss the security situation in the DR Congo's violence-torn east.

Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday announced the reopening of a border post between DRC and Uganda they had seized on June 13, while fighting continued further west, local sources said.

Friction between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its eastern neighbour Rwanda has surged in the past few weeks over the M23 rebel group, which Kinshasa accuses Kigali of backing.

"Today we proceeded to open the border at the Bunagana border post," M23 spokesman Willy Ngoma said in a video sent to the press, standing outside the immigration services building on the Congolese side of the frontier. 

"As you can see, people are starting to come back... they have to go back so that the children can go to school," he said. 

"Yes, the M23 has just opened the border... but some of the people crossing are coming to pick up some things and then return to Uganda," said Damien Sebusanane, a local civil society leader. 

A primarily Congolese Tutsi militia that is one of scores of armed groups in eastern DRC, the M23 leapt to global prominence in 2012 when it captured Goma.

It was forced out shortly afterward in a joint offensive by UN troops and the Congolese army.

But the militia has recently made a comeback, clashing with Congolese troops in violence that has inflamed tensions in Central Africa. 

Since the end of March, when the M23 fought the Congolese army in Rutshuru, thousands of people have fled to Uganda. 

Bunagana is a major trading and transit centre for goods, where thousands of dollars a week in taxes and customs duties are handled. 

The reopening of the border at Bunagana does not mean that vehicles can again travel by road to Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu province. 

The front line is near, with the DRC army stationed at the Rwanguba bridge, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the border. 

Fighting has also been reported since Sunday evening further inside DRC territory, towards Bikenke.