The thirteen Belgian soldier were repatriated discretely on civilian aircraft from Kinshasa over the past two weeks. They had first been flown to the Congolese capital from a military base in Kindu aboard a C-130.
They had been stranded at the base since the military cooperation between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo had been halted in April. They had wanted to return home, but the authorities in Congo had refused to provide them with an exit visa as they claimed that the Belgian soldiers had been privy to “sensitive information” that they wanted to keep in the country.
Kinshasa always denied that the Belgians were “stuck” and laid the blame at the door of the pressure Belgian authorities had bought to bear to obtain visas for 50 other Belgian soldiers that were to be sent to the Democratic Republic of Congo to collect equipment from the base in Kindu.
The Congolese refused to grant the visa and according to the Congolese government Spokesman Lambert Mende Omalanga the 13 Belgian soldiers remained to “to keep an eye on the equipment”.
Meanwhile all the soldiers have returned home and a C-130 plane with the equipment is due to land at Melsbroek Military Airport today.