James Tasamba article on Tanzanian returnees was short on facts.

After reading an article in your esteemed paper of August 1, 2007 by one James TASAMBA describing conditions in Nemba and Rutete resettlement sites in Bugesera District as “bad, disgusting and hell”, a team comprising of Ministers and members of the National Council for Refugees visited Rutere resettlement site on August 2, 2007 to see for themselves facts on the ground.


Subsequently, the National Council for Refugees would like to put the record straight:


1. Rwandans returning from” The Republic of Tanzania are temporally accommodated in

Kiyanzi Camp in Rusumo District where there are registered and given basic household requirements including food items and two plastic sheeting per family, not one as the article alleges. It is true some of these plastic sheets are getting old, but the writer could have been prudent to report these returnees are transiting from sheets to quasi- permanent houses. Already, 38 iron-roofed houses built by World Vision are ready for occupation and CDF has already earmarked Frw30 million Rwanda to supplement this exercise. The UNHCR has also promised iron sheets worth $20,000 for ‘this site. So there is really a concerted effort to help our compatriots move out of “sheeting” houses into respectable homes;

2. Regarding returnees’ children enrolled in secondary schools lacking scholastic materials, surely the writer should have been aware of Government decentralized mechanisms to assist needy children such as the Education Fund. “It is Government policy returnees integrate into mainstream programmes existing in local entities by taking advantage of those facilities already in place;

3. On the issue of water, to-date the site has enough piped water and several outlets where the population can draw water from. Those recently settled may experience difficulties accessing water, due to a steep gradient but plans are under way to purchase a pump to pump water to where they are settled;

4. The writer talks of “hell-like” conditions in the health facility at the site due to heat. I hope he is aware we are in the midst of a rather unusually hot spell due to global warming. That aside, the Ministry of Health is aware of the problem and has in its short term programmes, plans to resolve it. While at the site we tallied common diseases reported at the health post in the past three months and the figures obtained did not give any alarming trend;

Lastly, National Council for Refugees would like to point out, the Government has set aside about one Frw1 billion this financial year, most of which has been decentralized to Provincial level and is available for use to settle and integrate Rwandans returning from Tanzania. It is therefore incumbent upon us all, including the press, to highlight positive achievements so far and not dwell on a few shortcomings some of which are inaccurate.



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