On the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi, Survivors Fund (SURF) and survivor-led NGOs in Rwanda see that, despite significant progress in transforming lives and bringing sustainable change for many, support is still critically needed by tens of thousands of vulnerable genocide survivors.
In December 2013, SURF and its partners agreed to form a coalition – The Task Force to Remember Survivors 20 – to raise awareness of the ongoing challenges of survivors, and to call for tangible commitments from the Government of Rwanda and the international community to address their critical needs.
While incredible progress has been made in Rwanda, twenty years after the genocide its consequences still very much endure. Through support provided from survivors’ organisations and the Government of Rwanda, survivors are today more actively integrated into their communities, addressing issues of trauma, and establishing income-generating businesses.
But the ongoing effects of the genocide are pervasive and include extreme poverty, terminal illness, disability, homelessness, unemployment and trauma. For survivors that have no family, are now elderly, and without reparation, these effects are compounded. The issues plaguing survivors today are interrelated and require tailored support, to enable them to raise incomes that can maintain their lives, and to continue to move beyond the consequences of genocide.
Reparation is one of the enduring, but no less critical, issues that survivors continue to call to be addressed. For survivors, reparation entails restitution and/or compensation for their moral and material damages, rehabilitation and guarantee of non-repetition. Given the scale of the support needed, SURF and its partners are calling for the establishment of an International Trust Fund for Survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
The 20th commemoration of the genocide is not only a time to look back and remember those who were lost, but also a time to look forward – and it is not possible to look forward without addressing the challenges that survivors continue to face.
This call is supported by the “Task Force to Remember Survivors 20”, launched in early 2014, which includes IBUKA, AVEGA, AERG, GAERG, Kanyarwanda, Barakabaho Foundation and Survivors Fund (SURF). The Task Force, which collectively represents over 300,000 survivors, serves to coordinate the commemoration activities of the representative organisations, and to enable them to effectively work together to engage the international community through the course of the twentieth anniversary.