Rwanda + 1 more

Rwanda: Long years of separation can obstruct reunification efforts

The following was issued as a press release by the ICRC delegation in Kigali on 27 April 2007

Jeannette and Esther are back together with their families after 10 years of painful separation. The two children, now in their mid-teens, became separated from their parents in 1997 in Tanzania during the massive return of Rwandese refugees from Cyabalisa refugee camp to their country of origin.

Contact between Jeannette and her mother was reestablished through the ICRC tracing programme in 2002. Five years later mother and daughter are making life projects together. As for Esther and her father, who initiated a tracing request through the ICRC in 2005, contact was reestablished last year.

Now reunited, the two young girls can get on with the business of starting a new life with their loved ones by their side.

Nevertheless, a few Rwandan children remain in Tanzania. Most are living with foster families, hoping that either the ICRC will succeed in tracing their parents or that their loved ones, or others who know the families, will hear their names on broadcasts about each child that the ICRC makes over Radio Rwanda (89.9MHz, 100.4 MHz) and Radio Maria (88.6MHz, 97.3 MHz and 99.8 MHz).

"With the passage of time other children do not want to return to Rwanda because at the time their parents fled the country they were still babies. The children therefore do not have any memories or attachments in Rwanda and prefer to stay in the host country or find a new home," explains Gad Niyomugado, a member of the ICRC's tracing unit in Kigali. ICRC keeps records of these cases which it follows very closely until the child reaches the age of 18 years.

Since 2001, 50 Rwandan children have been reunited with their families through the ICRC tracing programme.

For further information, please contact: Georgia TRISMPIOTI, ICRC Kigali, tel: +250 577344 or +250 0830 5069