Rwanda

Rwanda: Trauma counsellors trained

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KIGALI, 16 January (IRIN) - The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission has completed the training of 45 trauma counsellors who will handle trauma-related cases expected to increase when the Gacaca justice becomes fully operational in March.
The two American specialists on trauma who conducted the training said the new counsellors were now skilled enough to train others to "promote healing, reconciliation and a peaceful future in Rwanda".

The Gacaca justice system, based on traditional village courts, was introduced in the country in 2001 to expedite the trials of about 85,000 suspects held in the nation's prisons, in connection with the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people.

"Genocide left a lot of damage on the minds of Rwandans, which makes it difficult for reconciliation. However, the past must not eclipse the future, Ervin Staub, an American psychologist, said."

The new counsellors were also taught the history and origin of the Rwandan genocide.

An official of the national commission, Frank Kobuceye, said trauma cases were likely to increase once the Gacaca courts became fully operational nationwide, combined with the return of former Hutu combatants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the "mourning week" observed ahead of the 7 April anniversary of the genocide.

"We noticed an increase in trauma-related cases during the pilot [stage of the] Gacaca courts," Kobuceye said.

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