Lessons other countries can learn from Rwanda’s 1994 humanitarian crisis

By 1994, Rwanda was engulfed in humanitarian crises, due to the overwhelming suffering from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with enormous dangers faced by those trying to help people in need. Today governments and humanitarian organizations around the world observe World Humanitarian Day, which the UN established to pay tribute to aid efforts for victims of conflict and natural disasters, and to honor the memory of humanitarian relief workers worldwide who lost their lives in service during the past decade.
Rwanda today is a far cry for its dark history. Other countries can pick a leaf. Net photo
Rwanda today is a far cry for its dark history. Other countries can pick a leaf. Net photo

By 1994, Rwanda was engulfed in humanitarian crises, due to the overwhelming suffering from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with enormous dangers faced by those trying to help people in need.

Today governments and humanitarian organizations around the world observe World Humanitarian Day, which the UN established to pay tribute to aid efforts for victims of conflict and natural disasters, and to honor the memory of humanitarian relief workers worldwide who lost their lives in service during the past decade.

In Rwanda the 1994 Genocide left much of the country destroyed and more than a million people lost their lives. In addition, a mass exodus from the country caused a shortage of human resources in the civil service.

Following the cessation of hostilities, the Government of Rwanda has progressively re-established law and order, security and the civil service. A democratic government has been elected, and has taken steps to ensure the stability of the country. The economy has grown because of solid economic reforms and policies.

Metre Nkongoli, Commissioner at the Rwanda Human Rights Commission RHRC says that after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi the international community responded. Several aid workers dedicated their time and effort.

 “As we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice; other countries must transform their efforts to prevent disasters caused either by war or natural hazards before they occur,” Nkongoli says.

Nkongoli says that, “in response, governments should increase spending and emphasize on reducing risks, and must do more to ensure that the urgency of post-disaster response does not crowd out the vital work of prevention.”

The commissioner urges other countries to pick a lesson from Rwanda’s 1994 humanitarian crisis and lay better strategies to become more effective in its civilian relief efforts in their respective countries.

Most key findings and recommendations relate to the need for policy coherence within the UN, more effective means of monitoring volatile situations and triggering early action to prevent gross human rights abuse, stronger coordination within the UN humanitarian system and greater willingness to invest in effective preparedness measures

He also notes that responding to emergencies is only one aspect of humanitarian work.

“Humanitarian workers also support communities to rebuild their lives after disasters, to become more resilient to future crises, to advocate for their voices to be heard, and to build lasting and sustainable peace in areas of conflict,” he explains.

The humanitarian concerns should be addressed with the immediacy that they require. However, there is a political background to the situation that has evolved and only a political solution and democratization can reverse the deteriorating political climate in the country.

The mechanisms used to coordinate humanitarian response work should integrate joint education on preparedness for crises, interaction during operations and procurement of funding.

They should also include measures to promote coordination with local media and emergency responders.

Other countries should increase to seek security, democracy and good governance, humanitarian and social issues, and uphold human rights to be incorporated in the framework of managing humanitarian issues.

ntagu2005@yahoo.com

 

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