The last South Sudanese rebel fighters left Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday. The fighters numbering 744 were being housed in a camp run by the UN Mission in Congo. They have been returning to Juba in batches. On Thursday, the last group was bussed out of the compound.
“I return to my country to enjoy life because I am South Sudanese, the only reason for us to leave the camp is to return to our country”, said one of the former fighters.
“We are very happy and we want to thank everyone who participated in the repatriation process, especially the MONUSCO office”, said another as he took his seat on the MONUSCO bus.
I return to my country to enjoy life because I am South Sudanese, the only reason for us to leave the camp is to return to our country
Congolese authorities said they are happy the fighters returned home.
“They are all leaving, the last 12 elements that remained here are leaving today. Our government has kept its promise. These people were in trouble at home, they fled to us and our government let MONUSCO rescue them and today they are leaving our territory”, said a member of the Joint Verification Mechanism Mission in the DRC.
Now the returnees have a duty to take part in the peace agreement signed in early September between President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar.
“Definitely we are going back for one mission; continue the peace process signed in Addis and Khartoum, this is our mission in southern Sudan”, said a former fighter.
The peace agreement provides, among other things, for the return of Riek Machar to occupy one of the five vice-presidential positions provided for in a government of national unity.