May 16, 2021

Response To Idamange: Government Moves To Find Jobs For Genocide Survivors

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In addition to trauma due to what they experienced in 1994, genocide survivor need particular support including the basics

Government is facing a crisis as many of those it sends to school end up getting no jobs. For survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the unemployment situation is much more serious. 

The umbrella organization for genocide survivors IBUKA announced Saturday that it is committing itself to not only educate its beneficiaries, but also ensure they get a job. 

The latest move by IBUKA appears to be in response to longstanding discontent among genocide survivors over their continued poor living conditions. Their plight is subject of regular public discussion in the media and different other platforms. But little gets done. They have recently been fighting back publicly. 

In early February, a woman named Idamange Yvonne Iryamugwiza surfaced with a YouTube channel in which she grumbled about conditions of genocide survivors. Within days, Idamange was national subject. She made various other serious allegations, and is currently in detention facing prosecution for undermining state authority – among other charges. 

Idamange, 42, said she was a survivor herself and had been supported by the government’s Genocide Survivors Assistance Fund or FARG through school and a home. It is from there that she got married, now with four children.

A government census found there were 309,368 survivors. Since 1998, FARG has been allocated 5 percent of annual budget.

As of last year, FARG audit shows it had spent more than Rwf 333billion, put into to everything – including the basics like food and shelter for survivors. But then, at least Rwf 300m was missing. Millions of Francs lay unused in bank accounts of different local and central governments as projects have not been implemented.

Opposition groups have seized on the bad conditions, in which some survivors live, to mobilise. Some of the loudest government critics, mainly from outside Rwanda, are genocide survivors. Getting support from survivors gives powerful legitimacy to any politician. 

The ruling RPF party, which has been credited for stopping the genocide in 1994, cannot risk to be viewed as not taking care of the survivors. 

Indication of how serious the wellbeing of survivors is considered, the First Lady Jeannette Kagame’s Imbuto Foundation is directly involved. One of the projects she has is fully furbished hostels for the elderly. 

But with fewer opportunities as the economy struggles, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands have lost their job. For genocide survivors, though, it cannot be any worse. With no family to lean on for support, they have government is their sole parent and breadwinner. 

At a commemoration on Saturday in Kigali for families completely wiped out during the genocide, survivors group IBUKA said it will do everything it can to find jobs for those with education but unable to find paid work. 

Using the analogy of parent-child, IBUKA president Egide Nkuranga said just as a child leaves home after getting ability to support themselves, government should continue to play that role for survivors. 

“Government throught FARG has been our only parent, the last remaining problem we are facing is lack of jobs,” said Nkuranga. 

“As IBUKA, we will do everything possible to ensure none remains unemployed. We will lobby wherever we can reach. We will also have to create those jobs if we can.” 

At the same commemoration, the government was represented by Justice Minister and Attorney General Johnston Busingye. Reading from a prepared speech, he did not comment on the unemployment issue raised by IBUKA. 

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