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The Comfort of Strangers

Jinmi Adisa


Conclusions and Recommendations

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1. Introduction

1The presence of Rwandan refugees in the neighbouring states of Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Zaire, is of critical significance for the Great Lakes Region of East and Central Africa. It poses challenges for the individual states and the region in general. The influx of refugees has imposed serious economic, socio-political and environmental hardship on the host communities of Tanzania, Burundi and Zaire. Large-scale refugee movements represent a challenge to the security of both the states from where they come and the states that receive them, and increase the danger of political instability in the Great Lakes Region. The problem is particularly acute in Burundi where the refugee presence causes serious cohabitation problems that threaten to destroy the country. Even greater problems are generated by refugee flows back to Rwanda and other neighbouring countries, which have the potential for destabilizing the whole region.

  • 1 B.A. Ogot, The Great Lakes Region. In : General History of Africa, Vol. IV, from the 12th to the 1 (...)
  • 2 The communicating tubes approach is a scientific model for interconnecting communication.

2The Rwandan refugee problem certainly directs attention to the importance of the wider socio-economic and political links in the Great Lakes area. The shares a common history, based on the co-existence of agriculturalists and pastoralists in the period that preceded modem state formation.1 The states that emerged were invariably multi-ethnic societies linked by the confluence of cultural traditions, a consistent pattern of transborder migration and related cross-border flows of refugees, ideas, weapons and insurgent movements. The violent eruption in Rwanda in 1994 and its refugee aftermath simply intensified these socio-political currents and demonstrates very clearly how development in one state (Rwanda) is determined by development elsewhere (Uganda, Burundi, Zaire, Tanzania). This symbiosis emphasizes the need for a ‘communicating tubes’ perspective,2 since it is apparent that the Rwandan refugee dilemma can only be treated using the broad scope of a Great Lakes approach.

3Quite expectedly, host state responses have been guided by parochial but legitimate self-interest. Growing disillusionment with the refugee presence in the Kagera region of Tanzania and Kivu provinces of Zaire has generated hostile political reactions at state level. This hostility is even more pronounced in Burundi, because of ethnically inspired fears fuelled by Tutsi extremists. The results have been political resolutions passed with the aim ‘to get refugees out’.

  • 3 The Cairo Summit of the Presidents of Zaire, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania, initiated by former US (...)

4A pattern of forcible repatriation was established by Burundi and cautiously applied in a few instances by Tanzania. Zaire Consolidated this practice when it initiated the refoulement in August 1995 of about 13 000 Rwandan refugees and thereafter set a deadline of December in the same year, for all refugees to go back to Rwanda. This was only averted by pressure from the international community.3

5The Rwandan refugee problem offers both a challenge and an opportunity to the international community. To begin with, it brings into sharp focus the phenomenon of regional political instability in the Great Lakes Region and the necessity for its urgent solution. Over the last four decades, a tradition of violent political conflicts has been established ; and a belt of socio-economic and political insecurity exists that feeds on the individual circumstances of various countries and their interrelationships. There is a risk of renewed civil war in Rwanda, the beginnings of one in Burundi, persistent internal political turmoil in Zaire and ongoing insurgent activity in northern Uganda. Tanzania appears as an oasis of social political stability in this context. Yet the uncertainty and disquiet that surrounded the recent presidential elections in Zanzibar and to a lesser extent, mainland Tanganyika in late 1995, and the subsequent political manoeuverings, show clearly that stability even there cannot be taken for granted.

6The Rwandan refugee problem is at the heart of regional political differences, underscoring attitudes and defining outlooks. The disposition towards new caseload (Hutu) refugees defines the position of individual national leaders within the broader political spectrum. A regional approach to the refugee problem, therefore, could serve as the basis for restoring political equilibrium in the Great Lakes Region and for ensuring rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war-torn area. Such a regional approach must be undertaken with two complementary dimensions in mind. The first focuses on short-term requirements and the second on long-term considerations.

2. Short-Term Requirements

7In the short term, the first serious subject of consideration is the issue of environmental degradation, particularly deforestation. The stress put on the environment of the various host communities by the refugee presence has been extreme. Given the large number of people involved in the influx this was inevitable. More significantly, local communities were caught in a state of unpreparedness, and aid agencies, including UNHCR, were ill-equipped to address the situation. Worse still, there was hardly any local capacity for the technical and managerial tasks required to meet these environmental challenges. Basic inputs for decision-making such as a coherent land-use strategy or satellite photography were often not available. District or local officials acted in ignorance. These inadequacies require urgent attention. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) should take urgent steps to provide remedies. In particular, they should undertake an inventory of local resource capabilities to identify gaps and requirements and initiate training programmes at national and regional levels to increase the awareness of environmental responsibilities and improve the skills that can heighten the response to such emergencies.

8A related aspect of this problem is the issue of compensation. Sympathy fatigue among host communities is an outcome of the exorbitant refugee burden. Local resentment is generated by the cost of the negative impact of the refugee presence on the environment, prospects of diminishing food security, the depreciation of the infrastructural base, the pressure on social and health sectors and regional and district administrations and the uncertain security environment. Compensation is required to offset the costs of restoring access roads, increasing administrative capacity, improving logistics, financing resettlement schemes and improving the institutional capacity of host states to cope with the refugee problem. Specific demands in these categories must be the subject of negotiations between the governments of the host states, the donor community and international assistance agencies.

9Tanzania has established a good record in this respect. A task force was set up in 1994 under the Prime Minister’s office to assess the negative impact of the refugee influx. The task force enlisted the participation of seven UN agencies which worked in close collaboration with appropriate ministries, regional, district and local officials. The reports were the subject of a Donor Conference in Dar-es-Salaam in December 1994, coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The conference received pledges of support for compensation programmes and raised funds for the rehabilitation of social services. The US, Britain, France, the EEC, and the Netherlands, amongst others, gave commitments for financial support. The ‘pariah’ status of Zaire in the international community and the ‘troubles’ in Burundi impeded efforts for similar aid programmes. Particular packages must, however, be worked out, taking into account the demands of specific situations.

10The case of Burundi also demands urgent attention. As noted earlier, the explosive political situation in the country is dictated by the ethno-political unrest which began with the assassination of the country’s first democratically elected (Hutu) president, Melchior Ndadaye, in 1993 and the death of his successor, Cyprien Ntaryamira in the plane crash of 1994. A power sharing convention, evolved in the aftermath of that crisis, led to a shaky and fragile coalition. About one and a half years after its inauguration, the security situation remains tense. Assassinations and small massacres continue as Tutsi extremists in the army, where the real power lies, continue to act instinctively. An institutional or leadership vacuum is apparent that has critical implications for the Burundian state. Food production and industrial output continue to fall, commercial activities have stagnated and public investment has dropped, as aid agencies have halted de facto development activity. The situation demands quick and serious attention from the international community, because Burundi is a key element in the framework of overall regional political stability. In view of the current level of internal chaos and the dangers faced by assistance workers, it would be tempting to assume the observer role, and wait for things to stabilize. Such an affectation of impotence would only reduce the already low level of resources in the country, as well as in the region and cost lives. Specific, continuous attention is required from the International community to stabilize and improve the socio-economic and political situation. This should involve concrete assistance to Burundi’s institutional and political processes : to assist in strengthening the judicial system, implementing land reform, reforming the armed forces, re-training both old and new members of the civil service and also in resolving such long-standing issues as the politicization of ethnicity. Efforts directed to these objectives would facilitate the elimination of discrimination and distrust in the judiciary and remove the justification for and credibility of militia and clusters of extremists. Such assistance would also foster neighbourhood reconciliation and aid the possible resettlement of both the internally displaced and refugee populations in rural areas.

  • 4 Cited in : Site Visit Notes, Rwandan Refugees : Updated findings and recommendations, US Committee (...)

11Randolph Kent, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kigali has observed that after the genocide and refugee flight, Rwanda itself suffers from a ‘profound lack of capacity’.4 The civil war of 1994 destroyed the macro-economic and institutional framework necessary for the balanced growth of a modem economy. By mid-1994, the rural economy was in tatters, the legal infrastructure and law enforcement and health care systems had collapsed. The educational sector was also in disarray. Between August and December of that year, the assistance of the international community was focused on saving lives by providing humanitarian aid for refugees in Zaire, Tanzania and Burundi. In late September as the gravity of the situation became clear, attention began to shift towards the rehabilitation of Rwanda. Thereafter, UN and donor agencies established a vast array of projects and programmes in different sectors and in the various regions of the country.

  • 5 United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Persons Affected by Crisis in Rwanda, January- (...)
  • 6 US Committee for Refugees, 1995.
  • 7 The World Bank and the Rwandan government disagreed over the entity that would assist the governme (...)

12Non government organizations (NGOs) also adjusted their focus, changing from humanitarian assistance to rehabilitation. The first phase of this rehabilitation was funded through UN Consolidated appeals based on the January 1995 Round Table Conference, supplemented by a mid-term review in July.5 However, support for the recovery process has proved difficult. Of the 707.3 million dollars available in January, only 68.1 million had been disbursed by May 1995. Moreover, only 252 million dollars out of a pledge of 1,084 million dollars had been distributed by mid-September 1995.6 Several donors,7 in particular, the European Union, Belgium and the Netherlands suspended direct assistance as a mark of displeasure with the excessive force which the RPF government used to close down the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, specifically in Kibeho. Such assistance has now recommenced. Accordingly, a crisis of expectation has surrounded the rehabilitation programme for Rwanda. The institutional capacity of the Rwandan state needs to be shored up to ensure political stability and to accommodate prospects of repatriation.

13Another area of immediate concern focuses on gender issues and problems. The Rwandan refugee problem draws attention to the status of women in the Great Lakes Region. It is estimated that almost 70 per cent of the current population in Rwanda are women. The bulk of Rwandan refugees in the refugee camps of Zaire are also women. Again, though it would be difficult to cite precise figures, the probability is high that the female proportion of the population is increasing. The implications of this are varied.

  • 8 UNICEF, Rapport d’enquête sur la situation de la femme et de la famille dans l’environnement socio (...)
  • 9 Personal communication, Annette Scheckler, US Refugee Policy Group, Nairobi, 24 November 1995.

14First, there is a disproportionate number of women among the disfavoured group. Women were the most hard-hit survivors of the experience of April-July 1994.8 A large number were brutalized, raped and deprived of belongings, husbands and children. Some had their children turned into murderers ‘before their very own eyes’ without being able to do anything to prevent it. The age range of children who committed such atrocities was between 10 and 18 years.9 This phenomenon of ‘child criminality’ or ‘child responsibility’ creates serious emotional problems not only for the affected children but also for the women. This raises fears about what could happen on the return of refugees to Rwanda.

  • 10 UNICEF Rwanda, Progress Report, May 1995-March 1995.

15The impact of these experiences has been shattering. Family life has been disrupted and thousands of women have became widows resulting in a remarkable rise in the number of single parent households headed by women, which rose from 21 per cent in 1992 to 40 per cent in 1995.10 Many women have also been saddled with the responsibility of caring for the children of their dead relatives, as well as their own. Relative to the number of women, the proportion of children is growing.

16The difficulties facing women were compounded by the fact that women were not treated as a special group at the initial stages of the emergency. Only the World Food Programme (WFP) and CARITAS had food support programmes targeted at vulnerable groups, including female heads of households. Otherwise, women were treated as part of the general population. The fact that food and non-food aid materials were distributed via communes and secteurs rather than households was also unfavourable to the women. Camp life added to these difficulties. A large number of the women would like to go home to Rwanda but are not in a position to discuss the subject with their husbands.

  • 11 World Bank Evaluation Mission Report to Rwanda, 9 March-15 April 1995.

17Nonetheless, women have rallied vigorously and positively to the demands of the situation. For instance, there has been a spontaneous development of women’s groups in Zaire : about 50 in Kahindo alone.11 Other camps have followed suit. The focus of the groups is mainly economic. Members seek to acquire skills which can be used to improve their lives and those of their families. As a corollary, these associations also have social and political implications which make the men uncomfortable. Inevitably, their gatherings discuss the refugee problem and the women are interested in communicating with their counterparts across the border. This interesting development should underline concern about the status of women in the camps, in Rwanda, and in the entire Great Lakes Region.

18The legal position of women in Rwanda as in the wider Great Lakes Region and indeed most of Africa is ambiguous. The 1991 constitution of Rwanda asserts the equality of citizens but also accepts the validity of customary law which has no written code. Traditional law does not recognize the legal competence of women and deprives them of property rights. Women can obtain land by usufruct from their parents or on the death of their husbands if they have no male heirs or relatives. However, once a woman marries, the property belongs to her husband and if there is a divorce, she gets nothing. Essentially therefore, women cannot own anything : house, tools, livestock or crops. This lack of legal status has profound implications for rural households headed by women. Legal incapacity in the modem sector means that a woman cannot operate a bank account without permission from her husband or, if she is unmarried, from a male relative. This means that in addition to having no tangible assets, the woman cannot obtain a loan or credit.

19The tradition of male domination and a conservative cultural orientation places women at a disadvantage in the Great Lakes Region. Women are generally not prominent in public life. There is some token employment of women in government offices, but very few women have become cabinet ministers. In addition, cultural and social customs combined with male chauvinism deny women equal opportunities in the commercial sector.

20It seems clear, therefore, that national support programmes should be developed as part of a regional orientation for the empowerment of women, specifically in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region. Relief and development assistance should focus on women survivors in Rwanda ; programmes for political and social development should be targeted at women as a socially disadvantaged group. Women’s associations in the camps require material and socio-political support to become a moderating influence for social change. So also do women’s groups in post-genocide Rwanda. This focus would have multiplier effects on the society, in view of the normal human tendency of close relationships between women and children.

4. Long-term Considerations

21In the long term, the most serious consideration is what to do about the refugees. The regional approach is particularly useful because this is not a problem which Rwanda alone can handle. It requires the cooperation of host states in the Great Lakes Region and political and material assistance from the international community. Global inspiration and regional collaboration are required to achieve a durable solution, the design of which will integrate the objective requirements of the various states — Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire — into the wider interests of the Great Lakes Region. Specific elements of the design and their logical interrelationship should be a focus for future analysis. An evaluation of ail the possible solutions to the refugee problem could serve as a basis for such a design.

  • 12 The North itself is far from homogeneous, as latent rivalries between Gisenyi and Ruhengeri became (...)

22The regional approach encompasses four major alternatives. The first would be to redraw the map of national frontiers to accommodate ethnic antagonisms and pre-empt further conflicts. President Arap Moi of Kenya has suggested that Rwanda and Burundi should be realigned as ethnic monoliths : one state for the Hutu and another for the Tutsi. The idea appears attractive except that it is based on a mistaken assumption and is fraught with practical problems. As noted earlier, despite appearances to the contrary, Hutu and Tutsi are not ethnic monoliths. There are intense political differences between the Hutu in the northern region (Habyarimana’s base) and the central region of Gitarama (Kayibanda’s base).12

23Related problems include issues of sovereignty, national pride, the sense of cultural belonging and people’s attachment to land. Also, assuming that the proposal is to be considered, who would get what ? Would the Hutu be given Rwanda or Burundi ? Are both countries the same in terms of resources and opportunities ? If not, how is the allocation to be made ? Obviously, this may cause more problems than it intended to resolve. The option is not very practical unless it is undertaken within the framework of a broader agenda including elements of local resettlement. This leads us to the second alternative.

24The second is the ‘refugee village approach’ whereby refugees are deconcentrated into clusters of 4 000 to 5 000 inhabitants dispersed over a wide area in the hinterland. This arrangement has obvious advantages. First would be the relocation away from border camps which would reduce border raids. Second, the deconcentration would lessen military pressure on Rwanda and lower the tempo of insurgent activity. The net effect of both measures would be to enhance the prospects of inter-regional harmony. Third, the cumulative effects could possibly stabilize the political situation in Burundi. Fourth, it would establish a ‘land for material assistance’ strategy of mutual benefit to both the states of the Great Lakes Region and the international community. This might establish a pattern of conflict resolution that could be adapted to other situations.

25However, there are intricate problems associated with this approach. To begin with, political acceptability would be a major problem. At present, local resettlement would be opposed by most people in Zaire and Tanzania. A substantial part of the population of both countries would view it as simply importing problems. This opposition group would find ready political leadership which could assume a violent form, endangering the prospects of peace and political stability in the Great Lakes Region. Unfortunately, this is basically an escapist approach which would relieve the Rwandans of the necessity of finding a solution to their own problem. Besides, the approach is only viable in the short term. It ignores the strong sense of cultural identity that the Rwandans have. Both Tanzania and Zaire have land space that could be used for the relocation of refugees, but this cannot eclipse the demands of micronationalism. If we accept the homeland syndrome of the second generation of Tutsi in Uganda as a critical factor in the current conflict, then it is impossible to visualize a situation in which their Hutu countrymen would accept foreign land as restitution. Deconcentration can only be a device for postponing the evil day of renewed conflict, not for preventing it. Domestic dissatisfaction with this solution would very likely heighten the rate and intensity of clashes between indigenes and émigrés, with serious implications for stability. Ideally, therefore, deconcentration should be used as a contingency plan, a fall-back card. To obtain political acceptability, such a contingency plan must be presented as a companion to a package for reinstallation and reintegration into the homeland. Twin options are necessarily expensive.

26The third general proposal is resettlement in a Third Country. This option is also problematic, especially as most countries which are preferred resettlement destinations can only accommodate small numbers and are in the West, i.e., Europe and America. It is difficult, if not impossible, to foresee Rwandan refugees being resettled in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Ontario or Hamburg. Refugee enthusiasm for such resettlement schemes cannot be taken for granted. Moreover, it is hard to perceive a situation in which any country, within or outside the region, would agree to resettle over two million Rwandan refugees on its own land.

27The fourth option is repatriation, of which there are four alternatives. The first, forced repatriation, compromises human rights and abuses international conscience and does not accord with the mood and civilized temperament of the international community. As previously noted, Zaire experimented by forcefully ejecting some refugees in August 1995 and threatened to continue in December, but was, however, prevented from doing so by pressure from the international community. It has helped the political rehabilitation of Zaire. Prior to this, Mobutu was regarded as a social leper. The refugee issue has made political leaders accept the need to dialogue with him.

28The second is voluntary and massive repatriation. Political conditions, however, are not supportive of this trend because intimidation in the camps has made refugees afraid of what awaits them in Rwanda. Besides, it is not yet certain that Rwanda has either the capacity to absorb large refugee inflows or the political disposition to do so. The third alternative, organized massive voluntary repatriation can be ruled out, because, in the present circumstances, it would involve some level of refoulement.

29The fourth alternative and most practical method is gradual and phased repatriation. It is necessary to emphasize that any practical framework for this form of repatriation must be sufficiently elastic. What is envisaged is a continuum, starting with small groups at the onset, which would be increased to larger numbers at the midpoint and grow into a flood of spontaneous repatriation as refugee confidence in the process grows and the project achieves a self-oriented momentum. If the repatriation process is to work well it must take this direction.

30The main goals of a phased repatriation programme should be to secure a viable political agreement which can facilitate the cooperation and support of relevant national political leaders in the Great Lakes Region. This would stimulate refugee confidence in the repatriation process, create an enabling environment in Rwanda for the return of refugees, and facilitate the establishment of viable political conditions which would support a healthy security environment and attract appropriate international assistance.

5. Current Efforts and Possible Remedies

31A commendable step towards regional peace was taken by former US President Jimmy Carter. Late in November 1995, Carter succeeded against strong odds in organizing a regional peace summit for the presidents of Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda in Cairo. The Cairo Summit concluded with an agreement envisaging a gradual repatriation of refugees at a rate rising to 10,000 refugees a day ‘within a short time’. Under the accord, the Rwandan government guaranteed the safety of returning refugees and that it would try to ensure that they would recover their property, but it gave no timetable. Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko told the summit that he would not expel the Rwandans. Carter stated that ‘no one is contemplating forceful return’ and conceded that :

  • 13 Daily Nation (1 December 1995).

…among two million refugees even 10,000 per day is a tiny proportion but we feel that when the first ones go home and international observers testify they are safe there will be increasing numbers ready to go home.13

32The final communique of the Cairo Summit condemned the 1994 genocide, promised not to harbour guerrillas, pledged to prevent arms shipment to rebel militias and promised to support efforts to neutralize Hutu leaders who intimidate refugee leaders in the Zairean and Tanzanian camps into not returning home.

33Carter noted at a press conference ‘that President Mobutu informed us that as soon as troop replacements arrive, they have the names of 33 leaders who are known to be intimidators and that they will be detained and removed’. Furthermore the leaders agreed to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) for at least three months as a confidence building measure for returning refugees.

34The agreement, though commendable, requires considerable goodwill to function. A summit has its advantages. State leaders feel under pressure to produce positive results after a period of closet diplomacy. The difficulty lies in sustaining the commitments made outside a high pressure environment. Excuses can be made and domestic challenges to established positions can be nurtured in a favourable atmosphere for extracting concessions from the international community. Also, the agreement minimized the crucial political and practical difficulties surrounding Rwanda’s land tenure system and property rights.

35It was also significant that the proposed extension of the UNAMIR mandate did not cover the elongated period envisaged for final repatriation. At a rate of 10,000 per day, it would take at least four months to evacuate ail Zairean refugees. In any case, this is a very optimistic scenario which does not allow for the hitches that could and would develop.

36Experience so far has shown that the Cairo Summit was premised on boundless optimism. Two events which occurred in December 1995 illustrate this and accentuate the deterioration of the political relationship between the RPF government in Kigali and the international community. One was the furore over UNAMIR presence. The mandate of the previous mission was to expire on December 8 and despite the apparent agreement of the Cairo summit, Kigali asked for the replacement of military personnel with engineers and logisticians, claiming that it could provide the necessary security facilities. The donor community, on the other hand, wanted to retain the UNAMIR military presence as a means of sending positive signals to the refugees in the camps. A short-term compromise was worked out which reduced the UNAMIR contingent from 7200 to 5000, and gave it a final three-month extension period. Furthermore, on December 6 1995, Rwanda expelled 38 NGOs including MSF, CARE-Australia, AICF-France, Terres des Hommes et Médecins du Monde. Eighteen others were ordered to suspend operations, pending further investigations. Kigali charged that the aid agencies were operating illegally. Rwanda’s Deputy Rehabilitation Minister, Christine Umutoni, said that aid agencies were asked to leave for not coordinating their activities with local officials, and for misconduct, including the sale of relief supplies. However, observers noted that their expulsion was a mark of dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the Genocide Tribunal in Arusha and the volume of international financial assistance. More importantly, the situation suggests that the Cairo summit (or Carter Plan) did not sufficiently address the question of Rwanda’s capacity to reabsorb refugees and at what rate.

37It is obvious that a premium must be put on planning for contingencies. The point has been made that gradual, phased repatriation is the most logical objective but there are serious obstacles impeding it. Failure to achieve rapid progress could be dangerous, especially as there are critical health and social risks in the continuing concentration of a large number of refugees at a few border camps in Tanzania and Zaire. Deconcentration should serve as a holding operation to prevent the degeneration of the current situation and provide a long-term strategy for the future development of settlement patterns in the Great Lakes Region. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (HABITAT) could help facilitate this by providing a deconcentration evaluation plan for site identification and development. Contingency plans should also be made to cope with any emergency which may arise from deconcentration.

6. Future Needs

38Deconcentration can only be an interim solution. Refugees are a cause, symptom and effect of the present Rwandan crisis ; their continuing presence in neighbouring states is evidence of its persistence. Hutu opposition hardliners accept this logic ; this is why they want to keep the refugees in the camps. The new government in Kigali would be well advised to take cognizance of this and play a reverse game. The ability to re-absorb refugees and re-integrate them into normal socio-political life would be the clearest indication of the return of political stability, provide a break in the cycle of violence and prove conducive to regional stability. It would undercut opposition elements and endear the vast majority of Hutu to the Kigali government. Rehabilitation of the war damaged economy is an essential prerequisite for success. A strong measure of international support would also be needed for consolidation.

39This requirement places a compelling demand on the Kigali government to re-examine its attitude towards political reconciliation. The RPF regime maintains that those who committed genocide should be punished. This is a laudable objective provided that they can be identified, apprehended and put on trial. A census of war criminals should be compiled and evidence of their complicity in genocide should be collected on a case-by-case basis. Findings should be submitted to the tribunal at Arusha which has been given the responsibility for passing judgement. Cases before the tribunal should be handled expeditiously without prejudice to justice. Fortunately, the Tribunal has started operations.

40Punishment in this case could serve as a deterrent. To insist, however, that culprits must first be punished as a condition for reconciliation, while the vast majority of Hutu remain in refugee camps, may be correct in moral terms, but still be a political error. Some of the culprits are ‘indulging in extravagance with stolen wealth’ in foreign capitals and have friends and political connections which make them difficult to bring to justice. Reconciliation in Rwanda cannot wait for them to be brought to book. It must begin now.

41It should be noted that the practical experience of warfare, ancient and modem, has shown conclusively that there are two ways to resolve military confrontation and both have nothing to do with justice. Either one party annihilates or subjugates the other ; or there is a negotiated compromise. This is not to devalue the importance of justice, or to argue that it should not be pursued. But a pragmatic approach is of significance and should serve as a stimulus for political reconciliation.

42After both parties recognize the value in a pragmatic approach, the next step is the promotion of confidence by means of bridge-building measures. The structure and design of confidence-building measures should be the subject of subsequent analysis. It should be an integrated package with short, medium and long-term components. However, the most fundamental requirement is the security of life and property of the individual Hutu refugee now in the camps ; and the guaranteeing of his safe return. While taking due cognizance of the value and emotional appeal of national sovereignty, the RPF government cannot handle this alone. The history of violence and distrust and the politicization of ethnicity emphasize the need for the RPF to collaborate with international agencies, preferably the UN or a neutral force, with the latter initially playing the primary role, so that the Hutu will feel that they have physical protection if they go home.

43As a corollary, RPF soldiers should be moved into barracks to reduce their interaction with the civil public. A reduced military presence in the streets will reduce the climate of fear. The absence of fear will revitalize the civil society and civil norms. However, there is no proper police force at present, so the only organized group with any capacity for crime control is the RPF army. The establishment of a strong police force is an urgent priority and a study of the nature of urban violence in Kigali in the post-war period will serve to establish the logical requirements in this regard. Indeed, it might be necessary to retrain some soldiers and transfer them to police duties as an immediate short-term measure. Of course, the RPF regime can only agree to these measures in circumstances in which it feels more secure ; one in which the government is less prone to the threat of invasion, cross-border infiltration or direct attack.

44Deconcentration of the camps fits well into this scheme. Border camps must be closed down and settlements built thereafter must be demilitarized. The transportation or smuggling of arms into camps must be stopped. Hutu hardliners must be disarmed. This implies that measures for screening refugees must be more effective within the framework of redesigned camp security management procedures.

45These are the priorities at the beginning of the confidence-building process. The other end of the process would entail eventual elections and the formation of a national representative government in which the main ethnic groups in Rwandan society (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa) will have an effective voice. Between the two ends of the process the Rwandan national army must be reconstituted on a basis which would make it acceptable to ail Rwandans. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the Hutu are repatriated and live normal lives. Once they are settled in their own country, incentives for fighting will be reduced and gradually disappear as expectations of normal life displace considerations of short-term political advantages.


1 B.A. Ogot, The Great Lakes Region. In : General History of Africa, Vol. IV, from the 12th to the 16th Century, D.T. Niane, ed., UNESCO/Heinemann Educational Books, London, 1984. See also J.B. Webster, B.A. Ogot and J.P. Chrétien, The Great Lakes Region, 1500-1800. In : General History of Africa, Vol. V, from the 16th to the 18th Century. B.A. Ogot, ed., UNESCO, Paris, 1992

2 The communicating tubes approach is a scientific model for interconnecting communication.

3 The Cairo Summit of the Presidents of Zaire, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania, initiated by former US President, Jimmy Carter, in late November 1995, played a crucial role. Details are provided later in the text.

4 Cited in : Site Visit Notes, Rwandan Refugees : Updated findings and recommendations, US Committee for Refugees, 25 October 1995, Washington DC.

5 United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Persons Affected by Crisis in Rwanda, January-December, 1995. Vols 1 and 2, UN Department of Humanitarian Affaire, New York, 1995.

6 US Committee for Refugees, 1995.

7 The World Bank and the Rwandan government disagreed over the entity that would assist the government in managing the procurement of commodities and technical assistance ; some donors placed explicit, and at times implied, limits on the conditions for assistance. The EU wants the political base of the RPF expanded ; indeed, France is reportedly blocking further EU assistance until the Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement (MRNDD) is brought into the government.

8 UNICEF, Rapport d’enquête sur la situation de la femme et de la famille dans l’environnement socio-économique du Rwanda de l’après-guerre, Kigali, Rwanda, November 1994.

9 Personal communication, Annette Scheckler, US Refugee Policy Group, Nairobi, 24 November 1995.

10 UNICEF Rwanda, Progress Report, May 1995-March 1995.

11 World Bank Evaluation Mission Report to Rwanda, 9 March-15 April 1995.

12 The North itself is far from homogeneous, as latent rivalries between Gisenyi and Ruhengeri became apparent under Habyarimana’s rule. President Habyarimana favoured Gisenyi, which gained ascendancy, but this was obscured when Gisenyi was itself divided by conflict between Bushiru (the President’s home district) and neighbouring Bugoyi.

13 Daily Nation (1 December 1995).

© IFRA-Nigeria, 1995

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