Mutobo, 09 March 2023 – Over 600 youth from higher-learning institutions, Rwandan Community Abroad, ex-combatants, and stakeholders are gathered at the Mutobo Reintegration and Demobilization Center, in Musanze District, to reflect on Rwanda’s unity, reconciliation, and peacebuilding journey since the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi.
Themed, “The consolidation of gains in National Unity and Regional Peacebuilding: addressing the threats in the Great Lakes Region”, this one-day national conference is jointly organised by the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE), the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC).
The Minister of MINUBUMWE, Dr. Jean Damascene Bizimana highlighted the choice of Mutobo Demobilisation and Reintegration Center as the venue for the conference:
“This centre is symbolic of Rwanda’s unique approach to promoting unity, reconciliation and peace building. Thousands of former armed group members of Rwandan origin successfully underwent civic education here and reintegrated the Rwandan society, and are now fully contributing to the country’s social economic transformation.”
Since 2001, Rwanda has demobilized and reintegrated over 70,000 (Ex-Armed Groups, Ex-FAR, Ex-RDF, Ex-RPA). Each person has received a reintegration package and the basic equipment needed to turn the vocational skills gained into a source of income activity.
“When I arrived in Rwanda, I was worried about my fate given the rumors we had been exposed to while in the jungles that whoever returns to Rwanda is killed. To my surprise, I was welcomed, underwent civic education, got technical skills, and received government financial support and equipment to start my new life. Today I am happy to have rejoined and reintegrated my community”, said Rtd. Col. Gatabazi Joseph, repatriated former FDLR member.
The conference comes at a time when unity and reconciliation in Rwanda stands at 94.7%, according to the 2020 Rwanda reconciliation barometer. However the resurgence of hate speech and genocide ideology in the region, especially in the eastern DRC, constitutes a threat not only to Rwanda’s gains in unity and reconciliation but also to the sustainable peace in the region.