A statement issued by WFP said David Stevenson, the WFP country representative in Rwanda, and Fatuma Ndangiza, the executive secretary of Rwanda's National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), signed the agreement for the food assistance on Monday in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
"This agreement with the NURC further solidifies WFP's commitment to support the government's efforts in the national reconciliation and peace process in Rwanda," Stevenson said.
The WFP said the food assistance would contribute to the promotion of unity and reconciliation. WFP will distribute the food in the 22 solidarity camps located throughout the country, under the administration of the NURC.
The former detainees will be reintegrated into their communities of origin after the training on civic education and counselling on rehabilitation, but they will later be tried under the 'Gacaca' justice system, launched in Rwanda in 2002. Under Gacaca, the community will try the suspects in open court sessions held at village level.
President Paul Kagame issued a decree on 1 January granting provisional release to thousands of prisoners, in an effort to decongest prisons. Some 19,276 prisoners were released on 28 January. They included those who had confessed to their crimes and those who may have already stayed in prison longer than they would have if they had been convicted. Another 21,130 prisoners, mostly those over 70 years old and the sick, were released on 10 January.
WFP will distribute food rations of maize, beans, vegetable oil and salt to the former detainees, "including supplementary rations of CSB [corn soya blend], vegetable oil and sugar for lactating women". The assistance is an expansion of WFP assistance to solidarity centres, which first opened in 1999.
Stevenson said although WFP had yet to receive confirmed donor pledges, it had contacted donor countries expressing an interest to support the food assistance project.
"Donor countries have expressed a willingness to support activities to assist the provisional release of detainees, and, yes, I am confident that financing for the food requirements will be pledged," he said. "Meanwhile, WFP is borrowing food stocks intended for other activities to ensure that the provisionally released detainees get the food they need, when they need it."
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