Great Lakes Conflict Spills Into Zim Refugee Camp

Tension is rising at Tongogara Refugee Camp between refugees from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who are trading blame for the problems besetting the Great Lakes Region.

Refugees from Burundi have also been sucked into the conflict on the side of those from DRC. They accuse Rwandans of having blood in their hands saying they participated during the 1994 genocide, which claimed close to a million lives.

The Zimbabwean government has moved in calling for calm. Paurina Mpariwa, the minister of public service, labour and social welfare, told the refugees at Tongogara to put aside their differences and live as one people.

There were reports the feuding refugees were involved in fist fights and threatening to harm each other.

The relationship between refugees from DRC , Burundi  and those from Rwanda have remained hostile since 2000.

Recently, the Congolese and the Burundans demonstrated at the refugee camp and marched to Chipangayi police station in Chipinge demanding that the Rwandese be removed from the camp.

The demonstration was quashed by the police.

They were accusing the Rwandans, all from the Hutu ethnic group, of being responsible for problems bedeviling their region.

The Hutus are largely blamed for planning and executing the genocide that claimed the lives of close to a million Rwandans, from the minority, Tutsi ethnic group. Hutus deemed to be politically moderate were also massacred inn the 100 days of blood –letting.

The genocide was ended after a Tutsi led rebel group led by now president, Paul Kagame, stormed into Kigali and drove the extremists Hutus out of the country.

This marked the beginning of problems in neighboring countries such as DRC. About six million Congolese are thought to have been killed during wars started by Rwanda.

The conflicts centered around Hutus who fled across the borders with Tutsi soldiers pursuing them.