Why RwandAir is banned from operating in DRC airspace

File image. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

  • The DRC banned Rwanda from its airspace because of alleged support for rebels.
  • RwandAir will abide by the ban on the safety of its passengers and crew.
  • Revival fighting between M23 rebels and the DRC national army is undermining ongoing peace talks.

The diplomatic tension between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has culminated in the latter banning RwandAir from flying to its territory.

The DRC accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebels, who have come back to life since operations in the east of the DRC.

Humanitarian agencies say at least 37,000 people have been displaced within four days of fighting between M23 and government troops.

In a statement late Friday, DRC government spokesman Patric Muyaya said RwandAir was not allowed into the country because of Kigali’s alleged support for the M23 rebels.

“Given Rwanda’s support for the M23 terrorists, it has been decided to stop RwandAir flights to our country immediately,” he said.

RwandAir issued a statement confirming that it would stop flying to the DRC.

“Following the decision of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to suspend RwandAir flights, RwandAir has decided to cancel all flights to Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Goma with immediate effect,” RwandAir said.

The airline also promised to return the affected people and, in some cases, offer rescheduled flights in the future.

RwandAir said this was in the interest of its clients and crew safety.

“RwandAir always places the safety and security of its customers and crew as its number one priority,” the airline said.

The decision to ban Rwanda’s national flag carrier from the DRC will have a negative impact on the airline’s revenue.

RwandAir regularly operates the Kigali-Goma route – and, for the airline to travel as far as West Africa, to countries such as Nigeria, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Ghana, Benin and Congo Brazzaville, it can cover the airspace of ‘ e DRC does not occur.

Last week, the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo would occupy the territory of Rwanda and, in the process, injure civilians.

Rwanda then called for the expanded joint verification mechanism – a regional team of military observers to investigate the matter.

Relations between Rwanda and the DRC have been strained since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained therein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

Why RwandAir is banned from operating in DRC airspace

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