Rwanda to share experience on reintegration of disabled ex-combatants

Participants will visit disabled ex-combatants who benefited from JICA supported projects, according to officials.
Mukantabana speaks during the news briefing as Maruo Shin, the chief representative of JICA Rwanda office looks on on Monday. Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwanda is set to share her experience on how it managed to reintegrate in society disabled ex-combatants.

The country will share its success on the reintegration of ex-combatants, especially those who were disabled on the battlefield, during an international peace building seminar.

Organised by Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the seminar will take place in Kigali from Thursday to Friday.

Participants will visit disabled ex-combatants who benefited from JICA supported projects, according to officials.

Through RDRC, Rwanda is credited with having managed to reintegrate many ex-combatants, including ex-FAR soldiers and members of the FDLR militia, as well as Rwanda Defence Forces.

Over 80,000 ex-combatants were demobilised and reintegrated including 3,800 who were critically disabled and needed special attention.

The country worked with JICA to implement reintegration and social participation of over 2,500 disabled ex-combatants.

Before they are demobilised, the ex-combatants are taken through reintegration process and are financially supported to begin a life.

Besides, ex-combatants especially those who were disabled at the battlefield are equipped with hands-on skills needed for creating own jobs and living better lives.

Some disabled ex-combatants benefited from two projects—the Skills Training for the Reintegration of Demobilised Soldiers with Disabilities and the Skills Training and Job Obtainment Support for Social Participation of the Ex-Combatants and other Persons with disabilities.

Addressing the media on Monday, Séraphine Mukantabana, the Chairperson of the Commission, said the upcoming peace building seminar will serve as a platform to share lessons learnt from the Commission and JICA’s cooperation to support disabled ex-combatants and other persons with disabilities.

“The Commission has the responsibility to ensure reintegration of ex-combatants and particularly ensuring daily lives of those disabled in the battle field,” said Mukantabana.

“Rwanda was chosen to host the peace building seminar to share experience and success stories about reintegrating disabled ex-combatants, we want to show how Rwanda managed to overcome challenges in the post-Genocide period.”

 Participants will come from the region and beyond, including post-conflict countries.

Eri Komukai, Senior Advisor in peace building at JICA, said the agency is proud of what has been achieved so far.

“We kept coming to Rwanda to visit ex-trainees who received the training to find out how their lives changed, how they are doing and we share experience with others. Both projects have had an impact on beneficiaries’ welfare as well as in peace building,” she said

“We wanted to promote the integration of disabled ex-combatants, we thought they are the ones with most challenges to reintegrate because they have different physical disabilities, after getting the skills, they may be able to get a chance to reintegrate in the community, that is why we focused on the most vulnerable.”

She said that the resolutions of the conference will be taken forward to the International Conference on African Development (TICAD) that will take place in Yokohama, Japan in August as a contribution to a discussion on the role of Rwanda in peace building and fostering unity and reconciliation.