Over Rwf 80 million (around £75,000) has been provided by sponsors to help genocide young survivors and widows to recover assets that were misappropriated during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. At least 2,000 young genocide survivors are set to benefit from legal support to ease access to justice and be able to recover their assets.
The funds were recently provided by Legal Aid Forum in conjunction with Netherland Embassy through Survivors Fund (SURF), a foundation that was established in 1997 to empower genocide survivors.
Samuel Munderere, Director of Survivors Fund (SURF) told Sunday Times that the young genocide survivors will be reached through awareness in 20 Universities in Southern, Eastern provinces and Kigali city explaining that these areas have the highest number of genocide survivors.
“They will get both legal aid and counselling services alongside genocide students associations. We still have young survivors whose assets were illegally taken over by neighbours, relatives and others and it requires legal process to retrieve them,” he said. He added that it is an ongoing struggle after having supported over 10,000 youth to return assets worth Rwf1 billion since 2013.
Out of those to be supported, 550 young survivors will be reached through free legal helpline (telephone phone service intervention) where they can call and then be reached for counselling and legal support. We will make sure they get lawyers to pursue the cases in courts but more investment will be in mediation mechanism,” he said.
Valerie Mukabayire, President of The Association of Genocide Widows, Avega Agahozo, said that they will also support elderly members of the association who need different forms of legal support.
“They do not have any other person to support them in different issues especially those related to their assets. Some of them are gathered in villages built for elderly survivors but they left their properties in different villages. It requires proper ways to legally manage those assets for them and proceed with ways to legally inherit them,” she said.
She added that there are others whose assets were taken by their relatives, those plundered and damaged by genocide perpetrators but they are yet to return the assets to the survivors and that they will help to fast-track execution of Gacaca courts judgments.
The support will benefit 816 widows in 15 districts including 7 from Eastern province and 8 from Southern province.
“652 of them will get legal support to recover their assets while 162 of them are elderly who will be supported to get an inheritance,” Mukabayire said.
Andrews Kananga, the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Forum (LAF) said that access to justice is part of Rwf250million sponsorship for different vulnerable groups over a period of 11 months.