ENTEBBE, Uganda, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Uganda on Tuesday repatriated 70 former fighters of the defunct M23 rebel group to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The former rebels, together with 10 of their dependents, were seen off here at Entebbe International Airport, 40km south of the capital Kampala. They boarded a United Nations military plane.
Robert Masolo, Uganda's ambassador in charge of special duties for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, handed over the former rebels to Jean Pierre Massala, DRC's ambassador to Uganda.
"We have been talking to them about going back home. When we see them returning home it is a positive in terms of stability for the region," Masolo said.
He said the former fighters were a security threat if they continued to stay in Uganda without going home.
Ambassador Massala said the former fighters were returning home voluntarily and would be rehabilitated before reintegrating them into the community.
"We did not force them to return. They said they want to come back home and work with the government," Massala said.
The group has been staying at Bihanga camp in western Uganda, where other former fighters are said to be living.
"We went to the camp with teams from the UN and Uganda and talked to them. I am very happy they accepted the offer. My president said he wants all the Congolese people to come home," Massala said.
Uganda in 2017 repatriated 45 former M23 fighters for disarmament and reintegration.
In 2014, Uganda, DRC and M23 reached an agreement regarding the return of 1,377 former rebels camped at Bihanga military training school in the western district of Ibanda for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration back home.
M23 rebels fled into Uganda in 2012 after being defeated by a combined force of DRC army and the UN.
DRC's new president Felix Tshisekedi has been calling upon all militia groups to surrender to government and work for the development of the country.