Rutshuru, sometimes called Rushuru, is a town located in the North Kivu province of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is headquarters of an administrative district, the Rutshuru Territory. The town lies in the western branch of the Albertine Rift between Lakes Edward and Kivu. The Ugandan border is 15 km east and the Rwandan border is 30 km south-east. Lava flows from the Nyamuragira volcano, 40 km south-west, have come within 7 km of the town in recent years.
It is the largest town formerly controlled by the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People faction. As of November 2012, the town is a stronghold of the rebel, or self-styled 'revolutionary' March 23 Movement. After the defeat of the M23 Movement the town was retaken by the Congolese army, and President Joseph Kabila paid a visit to the town in November 2013 after driving from Kisangani.
Rwandan Genocide and Congo Wars
Rutshuru has a Congolese Hutu population, and following the Rwandan Genocide large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees were housed in camps there. They became a centre for recruitment to the Hutu Rassemblement Démocratique pour le Rwanda (RDR) which carried out ethnic cleansing of the Banyamulenge, related to the Tutsi. The First and Second Congo Wars saw much fighting in the district involving Ugandan, Rwandan and Congolese forces of various factions. Since the official end of the war in 2002/3, fighting has periodically erupted between militias allied to the Hutu and Tutsi.
The Lueshe Mine is located in the Territoire de Rutshuru, north of Rutshuru town, exploiting one of the world's biggest reserves of pyrochlore, an ore of niobium. It is said to be the most valuable mineral resource of the eastern Congo but the mine has been officially closed for some years due to disputes over ownership of mining rights, the instability of the region, and the need to rehabilitate the mining equipment. Smuggling of pyrochlore by rebels under Laurent Nkunda is said to take place across the border into Rwanda.
Features and attractions
- Rutshuru Falls
- Mayi Ya Moto volcano and hot springs, 32 km north-north-west
- Virunga National Park
- Lake Kirwa, a small crater lake 10 km south-west
- Gettleman, Jeffrey (25 November 2012). "As Rebels Gain, Congo Again Slips Into Chaos". The New York Times.
- "DR Congo President tours ex-rebel areas". BBC News. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- David Barouski: "'Blood Minerals' in the Kivu Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo." Z Magazine online, (www.zmag.org), June 1, 2007.