On March 9, over 600 youth from higher-learning institutions, Rwandan Community Abroad, ex-combatants, and stakeholders, gathered at the Mutobo Reintegration and Demobilization Center in Musanze District, to reflect on Rwanda’s unity, reconciliation, and peacebuilding journey since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Organised by the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE), Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC), and Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, the one-day conference was themed “The consolidation of Gains in National Unity and Regional Peacebuilding: Addressing the Threats in the Great Lakes Region.” ALSO READ: FDLR supremo on how Kinshasa collaborates with genocidal militia The Minister of National Unity and Civic Engagement, Jean Damascene Bizimana, highlighted the choice of Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration Center as the venue for the conference, stating that the centre is symbolic of Rwanda’s unique approach to promoting unity, reconciliation, and peacebuilding. “Thousands of former armed group members of Rwandan origin successfully underwent civic education here and reintegrated in Rwandan society, and are now fully contributing to the country’s social economic transformation,” he said. ALSO READ: Ex-FDLR combatants benefit from Covid-19 recovery package Valerie Nyirahabineza, the Director-General of the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, spoke about how they offer lawyers to defend ex-FDLR fighters whose properties were seized upon returning to Rwanda. Ex-FDLR soldiers claim that in DR Congo, the state advises them not to leave, saying Rwanda is not safe and even offers to let them go to other countries if they do not feel like staying in DR Congo, she said. ALSO READ: Over 700 ex-combatants discharged from Mutobo Centre Since 2001, Rwanda has demobilized and reintegrated more than 70,000 individuals who were previously part of armed groups, including Ex-FAR, Ex-RDF, Ex-RPA. Each individual received a reintegration package and basic equipment to turn their vocational skills into a source of income. ALSO READ: PHOTOS: TVET school constructed for returning combatants Rtd. Col. Joseph Gatabazi, a repatriated former FDLR member, shared his positive experience with reintegration. He said: “When I arrived in Rwanda, I was worried about my fate given the rumours we had been exposed to while in the jungles that whoever returns to Rwanda is killed. “To my surprise, I was welcomed, underwent civic education, got technical skills, and received government financial support and equipment to start my new life.” Rtd. Col. Augustin Nshimiyimana, one of the founders of FDLR-Nyatura, said: “What I saw when I arrived in Rwanda is we had no information about the RDF [Rwanda Defence Force]. Even the FARDC [Congolese army], responsible for the chaos, has no information. When I saw how the RDF is well organised, I said to myself, we were suicidal,” he said. ALSO READ: Former FDLR fighters call for disarmament of militia The conference came at a time when unity and reconciliation in Rwanda stood at 94.7 percent, according to the 2020 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer. However, the resurgence of hate speech and genocide ideology in the region, particularly in eastern DR Congo, constitutes a threat not only to Rwanda’s gains in unity and reconciliation but also to sustainable peace in the region.