Expatica news

Congo soldiers sent home early

14 October 2004

BRUSSELS – A training programme for soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo  (DRC), which was taking place in Belgium, has been scaled down after 12 trainees went missing, it was announced on Thursday.

On Thursday morning 170 of the Congolese trainees were flown home, leaving around 100 soldiers to undergo further training, the Belga news agency reported.

The scheme began in early September at the Elsenborn army camp near Belgium’s border with Germany.

The aim of the programme was to train 280 DRC officers who would then return home to help train a newly constituted national army in the central African country.

But things went wrong earlier this month when 12 of the DRC soldiers at Elsenborn went absent without leave.

No one knows why the soldiers disappeared or where they went, but many analysts have suggested they were seeking to settle in Europe illegally.

The new DRC army is comprised of former rebels, militiamen and soldiers who fought on the government’s side during a civil war in the country that lasted from 1998-2003.

Around 2.5 million people died in the fighting, either directly in combat or through illness and hunger.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news