Former members of various armed groups, including the FDLR militia, were on Friday discharged after completing a three-month course in civic education and entrepreneurship.
The 33 ex-combatants, who were awarded certificates at Mutobo Demobilisation and Reintegration Centre in Musanze District, included two officers at the rank of captain, while others held varied lower ranks.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, the Chairperson of the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), Seraphine Mukantabana, said members of ex-armed groups were equipped with vocational skills to ensure they catch up with progress that other citizens have made for the last two decades.
“They have been undertaking vocational training every afternoon, including sewing, welding and construction, among other disciplines, to give them something to start with once they go back to their communities,” she said.
Mukantabana added that staff members of the commission had randomly picked a beneficiary from the discharged ex-combatants to follow up on their reintegration effort.
“This approach is new at the commission; what we are looking forward to do is to see each discharged ex-combatant have someone who closely follow them up for at least two years,” she said.
Jean Mpamyamurego, also known as Molego Anangwa Mucheri, was elated after his discharge.
“We lived a deplorable life for over 24 years in the forests of Katanga (DR Congo). The conditions were unbearable. Getting back to Rwanda is like the resurrection we read about in the Bible,” he noted.
“We were warmly welcomed to Rwanda, we were surprised by the way Rwanda had developed so fast; I personally confused Mahoko (a trading centre in Rubavu District) with the capital Kigali,” Mpamyamurego added.
The Governor for Northern Province, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, called on the ex-combatants to strive for the self-reliance like any other Rwandan citizen through optimising the support they will receive from Government.
He also urged them to observe the law as citizens.
RDRC provides to each discharged ex-combatant a startup capital of Rwf60,000.