U.S. Mission in Kigali remembers its employees killed during Genocide

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Amb. Barks-Ruggles lays a wreath at the U.S embassy's memorial plaque. / Courtesy

Employees of the U.S. Mission in Kigali, Wednesday, held a memorial ceremony at the U.S. Embassy compound to honour 26 Mission employees who lost their lives during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Over 200 people participated in the event, including employees from the U.S. Department of State, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Defence and Peace Corps, as well as surviving members of the victims’ families, according to a statement.

At this years’ commemoration event, Amb. Erica Barks-Ruggles was joined by Egide Nkuranga, vice president of Genocide umbrella association, Ibuka, and Jean-Damascene Gasanabo, Director General of Research and Documentation Centre on Genocide at the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG).

The US envoy, along with surviving family members, laid wreaths at the embassy’s memorial plaque in honour of the slain Mission employees.

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Addressing the audience, Ambassador Barks-Ruggles highlighted the U.S. Embassy’s collaboration through a grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation with CNLG and Penn State on preservation and conservation of genocide memorial sites and evidence.

“Through this partnership a series of experts have come to Rwanda and the Nyamata Church Memorial site to work side by side with CNLG staff from memorial sites across the country and at headquarters on innovative textile preservation techniques, architectural conservation, and educational and training programs. … Their collective work will ensure that the entire world will always be able to see – for generations to come – what happened here, and use those lessons to fight hate and prevent genocide everywhere.”

The participants in Thursday’s event were due to meet later for a Walk to Remember from Kacyiru to the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi, where the ambassador was to lay a wreath in honour of those who lost their lives during the Genocide.

The memorial plaque at the embassy grounds was unveiled in 2007, to honour and keep alive the memory of the fallen employees.

In 2005, embassy employees created a Genocide Orphans Fund (GOF) to assist the orphans with school fees to the university level. Most of them have already graduated from university, while three orphans are still benefiting from the fund.

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