The Agency this week completed its first distribution of food rations to prisoners provisionally released into Solidarity Centres under a government amnesty anounced on January 1, 2003.
Beneficiaries of the amnesty include prisoners who have confessed to the crime of genocide, those who have served their sentence, the chronically ill and aged.
According to the terms of their provisional release, prisoners must undergo 60-days' training at a Solidarity Centre, before returning to their home towns and villages.
Training at the Centres, which includes seminaries on the judicial & democratic system in Rwanda as well as the origins of genocide, is designed to better integrate prisoners into the national reconcilation process.
WFP will initially distribute food aid to 19,531 prisoners in 16 Solidarity Centres across the country.
But the figure is destined to grow as more prisoners are released. The Agency's project aims to help 43,379 ex-prisoners in 22 Solidarity Centres. A second training session of 60 days is expected at the beginning of April.
Besides taking part in the civic education programme, prisoners will carry out several tasks such as wood collection for heating and the construction of water supplies and shelters.
Although donor countries have expressed an interest in supporting WFP efforts to reinforce Rwanda's process of national reconciliation, to date this US$735,080 operation has received no donations.
To provide the first prisoners with food aid, the agency was forced to borrow from pre-existing stocks already mobilized for other activities.
This is a summary of what was said by WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 7 February 2003, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
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