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close this bookICRC Activities in Rwanda: 1993 - 6 April 2000 (International Committee of the Red Cross , 230 p.)
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View the documentRWANDA THE ICRC STAYED ON WHEN OTHERS LEFT
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View the document1995 - ICRC NEWS N° 1/4 January 1995
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View the documentICRC - SPECIAL REPORT - 29 March 1995
View the documentCommunication to the press No. 95/8 31 March 1995
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View the documentCommunication to the press No 95/13 22 April 1995
View the documentICRC NEWS N° 17/26 April 1995
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View the documentFACT SHEET
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View the documentFrom the Annual Press Conference by ICRC President Dr. Cornelio Sommaruga, Geneva, the 30th of May 1995.
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View the documentRwanda: Restoring family ties
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View the documentRwanda, Hemmed in by mines
View the documentICRC News 96/17 - 1 May 1996
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View the documentUpdate No. 96/1 on ICRC activities in Rwanda
View the documentICRC News 30 - 31 July 1996
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View the documentICRC News 96/46 - 20 November 1996
View the documentUpdate No. 96/8 on ICRC activities related to the Zairian crisis
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View the documentICRC News 96/47 - 27 November 1996
View the documentUpdate No. 96/10 on ICRC activities related to the Zairian crisis
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View the documentICRC News 96/50 - 18 December 1996
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View the documentAnnual report 1996
View the documentUpdate No. 97/01 on ICRC activities related to the Zairian crisis
View the documentICRC News 97/03 - Rwanda
View the documentICRC News 97/03 - Rwanda: refugees return to Kamembe
View the documentUpdate No. 97/01 on ICRC activities in Rwanda
View the documentICRC News 97/04 - 30 January 1997
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View the documentUpdate No. 97/02 on ICRC activities in Rwanda
View the documentUpdate No. 97/03 on ICRC activities related to the Zairian conflict
View the documentICRC News 97/11 - 27 March 1997
View the documentUpdate No. 97/03 on ICRC activities in Rwanda
View the documentExtract from “ICRC photo catalogue: 1996 selection, No 3”
View the documentLandmines in Africa
View the documentICRC News 97/17 - 7 May 1997
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View the documentAnnual report 1997
View the documentICRC in Rwanda: An overview of activities
View the documentICRC News 98/25 - 26 June 1998
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View the documentHome again - 11 December 1998
View the documentExtract from “ICRC photo catalogue: 1998, No 5”
View the documentAnnual Report 1998
View the documentICRC News 99/23 - 10 June 1999
View the documentFact Sheet: ICRC in Rwanda
View the documentICRC News 99/42 - 21 October 1999
View the documentICRC News 00/01 - 20 January 2000
View the documentFact sheet: ICRC in Rwanda
View the documentICRC News 00/12 - 6 April 2000

Annual Report 1998

Rwanda


Figure

A climate of insecurity continued to reign in some parts of Rwanda in 1998. At the beginning of the year armed groups made slow but significant progress, expanding their insurgency campaign from their strongholds in the Ruhengeri and Gisenyi prefectures in the north-west into southern and central areas. Attacks on villages and ambushes of vehicles claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians. Reprisals were often equally brutal. By mid-year, the situation appeared to be on the turn. The RPA* carried out massive counter-insurgency operations in Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, forcing the armed opposition to retreat. A number of combatants surrendered, while many others were killed during the fighting.

At the end of July, tension increased between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the latter put an end to the two countries’ military co-operation agreement. When an internal conflict broke out in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August, [20] Rwandan support for the Congolese opposition forces put further strain on relations with its neighbour.

Although many parts of the country enjoyed relative calm, the Rwandan population as a whole was still suffering the after-effects of the 1994 genocide. Furthermore, the country’s poverty continued to permeate every aspect of life, including State structures, which did not have the resources to provide essential services to the population.

Numbers of detainees stable, conditions worsen

In 1998 the number of detainees, which had been steadily rising since 1994, stabilized and even registered a slight decline, although around 124,000 people were still in custody. There were fewer new arrests and more releases on humanitarian grounds (the sick and very old). Inmates held in some communal lock-ups (cachots) were freed or transferred to central prisons. This, however, exacerbated the already crowded conditions in the latter. Kitchen facilities in particular were overstretched, and the incidence of diseases such as tuberculosis and typhus rose. Malnutrition continued to be a source of concern, especially among detainees transferred from the lock-ups, who were generally in a poor state of health. Meanwhile, conditions remained precarious in lock-ups still housing detainees, where overcrowding, insufficient food, water and medical care and poor hygiene were the cause of many deaths.

The ICRC kept up its visits to all detainees held in connection with the conflict and the 1994 genocide, with the exception of those held in regions inaccessible to the organization. As in previous years, the prison authorities had neither the means nor the funds to deal with the scale of the problems encountered. The ICRC was therefore obliged to provide the assistance needed to preserve the lives, health and dignity of the detainees. At the request of the Ministry of Justice, the ICRC covered just under 60% of the food requirements of the country’s prisons; in the last three months of the year this was increased to full rations. It also supplied nutritional supplements, life-saving medicines and basic hygiene items to both prisons and lock-ups. ICRC water and sanitation projects provided an adequate water supply and proper waste disposal for several prisons and the neighbouring population.

Unaccompanied children

The priority for the tracing service remained family reunifications for children separated from their parents during the mass repatriations in November 1996, [21] following which over 28,000 unaccompanied children were registered. By the end of 1998, 87% of them had been reunited with close relatives. In June, a third album was published in conjunction with UNICEF containing photos of children too young to give any information about their identity or the whereabouts of their families. Since the launch of the programme in May 1997, the photos of a total of 1,655 unidentified children had been circulated in this way, and as a result some 700 children had been reunited with family members.

Most of the Red Cross messages exchanged in 1998 were on behalf of un-accompanied children, with a view to restoring family links. The network was also available to civilians or detainees wishing to correspond with relatives abroad, but the number of messages handled decreased as compared with previous years.

Displaced and resettled people in conflict zones

The violence and killings in the northern and western districts prompted many people to seek refuge in safer communes nearby. In an initiative begun in July by the Rwandan army, an estimated 500,000 people were assembled in camps. By the end of the year, some of these civilians were allowed to leave the camps and resettle near their fields, but not in their former homes. By implementing this policy the government aimed to encourage these people to build new houses, grouped in villages, and end their traditional scattered way of life.

Although the fighting had abated and there were fewer attacks on civilians in the second half of the year, insecurity remained high in the north-west. Relief agencies assisting displaced or resettled people had to use army escorts for their own security. Under such circumstances, the ICRC deemed that the conditions for independent action were not fulfilled and it was therefore not in a position to survey needs in the region or to take part in relief operations, which were essentially led by the UN and NGOs. Nevertheless, the ICRC provided ad hoc food aid for some 20,000 displaced people in those regions it could reach.

Assistance for genocide survivors

The ICRC continued to concentrate its efforts on assisting the most vulnerable among the survivors of the 1994 genocide. Although poverty was rife throughout Rwanda and needs enormous among all sectors of the population, this group, estimated at about 150,000 people, remained the hardest hit and the least likely to receive assistance from other sources. All had witnessed the massacres, including the murder of relatives and friends. Many were profoundly traumatized by the events and still bore physical and psychological wounds. Following the repatriation of refugees in 1996/1997, large numbers were displaced by returnees reclaiming their land and homes. They moved to sub-standard sites, living in partially constructed houses, collective centres or temporary shelters, without adequate access to basic services.

The ICRC’s programmes for this vulnerable group mainly targeted widows, orphans and disabled and elderly people. Assistance was provided via local associations and included food, non-food supplies, training and materials for agriculture, livestock-breeding, income-generation and house repairs. The aim was to set up projects that would provide beneficiaries with a sustainable source of income or would help them on their way to self-sufficiency. In 1998 the programmes included supplying sewing machines, fabrics and furniture to enable orphans to learn a skill on leaving school; canoes, nets, rope and oil lamps to teach 400 schoolchildren and 150 unemployed youths between the ages of 10 and 19 how to fish; and seed, fertilizer, pesticides and agricultural tools to a group of widows who had turned to cultivating the land. The ICRC also contributed to the repair of houses damaged in the conflict by supplying roof tiles, doors and windows, while the occupants carried out the work themselves.

By 1998, most health facilities had been rehabilitated and were functioning once again and the number of qualified Rwandan medical staff had increased with the return of refugees and the arrival of new graduates from medical and nursing schools. It was difficult for the ICRC to assess the health situation in the areas to which it did not have access. Although only half the medical facilities in these areas were reported to be functioning, all the district hospitals treating the wounded remained open. The ICRC provided the hospitals in Gisenyi, Gitarama and Ruhengeri with medical supplies upon request. In cooperation with the German and Swiss Red Cross Societies, it kept up its support for the Kibuye district hospital by providing an expatriate medical team, supplying essential medicines and medical equipment and paying the salaries and overtime of all hospital staff.

The ICRC continued its programmes designed to restore or provide a reliable water supply in both urban and rural communities. A survey was conducted to determine the need for the rehabilitation and improvement of water-supply systems in repatriation/resettlement areas. The systems had been damaged during the events of 1994 or just afterwards, when no management or supervision was in place, and the relevant authorities still lacked sufficient financial and/or human resources to restore the supply to pre-1994 standards. Of the six places visited, three were considered a priority and projects were implemented straight away.

Promoting humanitarian law and principles

Given the country’s recent history, the blatant disregard shown for human life and the prevailing insecurity, promoting compliance with humanitarian rules, spreading awareness of general humanitarian principles and raising the profile of the ICRC and the Red Cross remained an essential task in Rwanda. The field officers who formed part of the network set up for this purpose received continuous training and guidelines were established. Following a report on the ICRC’s image in Rwanda, greater emphasis was placed on increasing the capacity of all ICRC and Rwandan Red Cross staff to include dissemination in their day-to-day activities and on promoting humanitarian law within the Rwandan military.

IN 1998, THE ICRC:


- visited 112,807 detainees in 130 places of detention and registered 11,526;
- exchanged 20,218 Red Cross messages between detainees and their families;
- provided 11,065.7 tonnes of food and 186.2 tonnes of high-protein biscuits to detainees in civilian prisons and lock-ups; in Kibuye, set up 2 kitchens serving 4 meals a week to inmates;
- distributed 221 tonnes of material assistance, including plates, cups and bowls, plastic sheeting, blankets, jerrycans, soap and cleaning products, to improve living and sanitary conditions in prisons and lock-ups;
- monitored the health conditions of detainees and regularly supplied basic medicines and vitamins/minerals; provided 213.2 tonnes of high-protein milk powder for severely malnourished detainees as part of a therapeutic feeding programme;
- monitored the nutritional status of inmates in lock-ups to assess the impact of the high-protein biscuits programme; donated kits containing basic drugs to local dispensaries caring for detainees in lock-ups;
- provided 80,000 litres of water on a daily basis to Rilima prison and to Butare, Kigali and Byumba prisons when technical problems arose with the water supply; began building a water-treatment and pumping station to tackle Rilima’s water-supply problem on a long-term basis;
- provided technical advice, assistance and materials to rehabilitate or improve kitchen facilities in all 19 civilian prisons;
- rehabilitated 77 lock-ups, modifying doors and windows to enhance light and ventilation, repairing roofs, cementing floors, digging latrines, fixing gutters to collect rainwater and providing tanks to store it;


- continued to centralize data on over 10,000 unaccompanied children and, together with other international and non-governmental organizations, carried out 4,053 family reunifications, bringing the total to 63,749 since the programme began in 1994;
- exchanged 8,450 Red Cross messages on behalf of unaccompanied children and between civilians and relatives abroad;


- distributed 1,517.5 tonnes of food and 134 tonnes of material assistance to displaced and needy people throughout Rwanda;
- supported micro-projects implemented by local associations for survivors of the genocide, distributing food and material assistance throughout Rwanda;
- up to March, provided 11,450 schoolchildren in 25 schools with 690 tonnes of food in cooperation with the Federation, which provided the transport, and the National Society, which coordinated the distribution;
- provided occasional assistance amounting to 755 tonnes of food and 7 tonnes of other supplies to 9,000 displaced people in the Gitarama prefecture;


- in cooperation with the German and Swiss Red Cross Societies, delivered medical assistance to Kibuye district hospital (over the year 702 patients admitted, 1,422 operations performed and 22,384 outpatient consultations given);
- provided ad hoc assistance to medical facilities treating the war-wounded;


- by means of a project delegated to the Swiss Red Cross, ran a limb-fitting workshop in Gatagara for disabled people and amputees, provided the services of an expatriate technician and a physiotherapist and trained local staff in the production of prosthetic/orthotic appliances and physiotherapy; in all, the workshop fitted 207 new patients with prostheses and orthoses and manufactured 67 prostheses, 240 orthoses and 151 pairs of crutches;
- engaged in technical and material cooperation with the national water, gas and electricity board, Electrogaz, to allow rehabilitation and/or upgrading of water catchments and pumping stations, improve storage capacity and to upgrade distribution networks, and carried out work on 16 water projects in Kigali, Gitarama, Kibuye, Mt Huye (Butare), Nyanza and Kibungo;
- addressed water-supply and sanitation problems in rural areas, by tapping springs, installing standpipes for small farming communities and rehabilitating distribution networks;
- carried out 8 quick-impact projects for the benefit of orphans, widows, hospitals and schools whose water-supply and sanitation systems had been destroyed during the conflict;
- delivered 120,000 litres of water by truck to 4 orphanages in Kigali;


- maintained support to the Rwandan Red Cross in the area of dissemination and training, and carried out joint activities to mark Red Cross and Red Crescent Day on 8 May;
- trained 20 Rwandan Red Cross volunteers and staff to help build the National Society’s dissemination capacity;
- held discussions with the Rwandan Red Cross with a view to setting up a tracing service within the National Society and trained branch secretaries in tracing techniques;


- initiated discussions with the RPA in order to develop a plan of action for permanent instruction in the law of war within the force;
- in December, conducted the first training session under the plan of action agreed with the military authorities, during which 760 senior and non-commissioned officers were taught the basics of the law of armed conflict;
- through its network of field officers, conducted over 300 seminars for more than 28,000 people, including Rwandan Red Cross volunteers, local authorities, schoolchildren and members of the general public;
- organized internal training courses for some 700 expatriate and locally hired ICRC staff;
- maintained regular contacts with the media and encouraged coverage of its activities in Rwanda by the local press, radio and television;
- with the Rwandan Red Cross, jointly sponsored 2 mobile exhibitions on Red Cross activities, which attracted a total of around 10,000 visitors;
- began using theatre to promote humanitarian principles, organizing 2 performances of the play The Reunificator for over 500 people.


Rwanda, Total expenditure in 1998: Sfr. 42,593,072

Notes

20. See ICRC News N° 17/26 April 1995.

21. Seethe ICRC’s 1996 Annual Report.

* RPA: Rwandan Patriotic Army