Ex-combatants have been urged to fully integrate in their communities and actively engage in the development of the country.
During a national conference on reintegration and mainstreaming of ex-combatants that opened yesterday in Kigali, the former fighters were urged to integrate and adhere to the norms of the communities they live in.
The two-day meeting, organised by the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC), brought together representatives of the ex-combatants and stakeholders in demobilisation.
Maj Gen Jerôme Ngendahimana, a commissioner at RDRC, called on ex-combatants to obey the rules and regulations in the community, as civilians.
“In your villages, your commanders are the village heads or the executive secretary of the cells. Do not consider yourselves as special and that will help you settle in comfortably,” Ngendahimana said.
The chairperson of the Commission, Jean Sayinzoga, said ex-combatants have every reason to work extra hard.
“When you joined the army, you left behind colleagues who went on to engage in income generating activities. If you work extra hard, you will catch up with their progress,” Sayinzoga said.
He added that the commission closely follows up on those that have been demobilised and re-integrated in their communities.
“We follow up on those demobilised to see how they are coping with life in the community and how they contribute to the development of the country,” Sayinzoga said.
The demobilised soldiers vowed to rally their colleagues toward nation building.
Sergeant (rtd) Adolf Sakindi said he was ready to work with others to build the country.
“Sometimes when you get discharged from the army people tend to fear you, yet an ex-combatant is a citizen like any other, and has to contribute to the development of his country together with the community,” Sakindi said.
The commission not only caters for those discharged from national service but also members of Rwandan armed groups – including FDLR militia – who disarm and return home.
Maj Valens Hategekimana, who was known as ‘Noah’ in FDLR, said there should be more campaigns to sensitise members of the militia group to come back to their homeland.
“People in DR Congo forests are misinformed about Rwanda. There is a need for media and the commission to make more efforts to reach out to them so that they can be part of the reconstruction of this country instead of planning to destabilise it,” he said.
Currently, over 80,000 ex-combatants from different armed groups have been demobilised.