Rwanda: IDP status ended years ago but not the squalor, says NGO

NAIROBI, 11 July (IRIN) - Of the 650,000 Hutus displaced in the late 1990s after an attempted insurgency in the northwest of Rwanda many still live in squalid conditions, the Global IDP Project said in a report released on Friday.

"The UN in 2000 ceased to consider the people uprooted, [but] living conditions in settlements inhabited by relocated displaced people, most of them Hutu, remain dismal," Global IDP Project, a Geneva-based NGO, said.

Raymond Johansen, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council which established the Global IDP Project, said: "The government and the international community should revisit their current approach and address this as a situation of humanitarian concern."

In the 18-page report, Global IDP Project said when fighting ended in the provinces of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi in 1998, the government did not allow the displaced to return to their homes. Rather, the NGO said, the government relocated them under an ongoing nationwide villagisation programme.

Initially, Global IDP Project said, the international community funded the programme but almost halted funding at the end of 1999 when the donors started having second thoughts about the voluntary nature of the relocation into the villages and their viability.

Global IDP Project added: "There are allegations of land belonging to the displaced being illegally occupied and exploited by members of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan army."

The government, Global IDP Project said, continued to promote villagisation more than five years after international funding had dried up. It said there remained "little evidence" that the programme has enabled the affected population to re-establish their lives.

"We urge the government to avoid any bias disadvantaging one of the ethnic groups in its programmes, and to investigate reports of illegal land occupation by army officers," Johansen said.

[Global IDP Project: Ensuring durable solutions for Rwanda's displaced people: a chapter closed too early: ]

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