Incentives should be explored.
The only missing aspect in repatriating refugees is material enticement. I am a typical Rwandan and believe donations are a sign of love, peace and forgiveness. I bet the giving tradition is as old as the Rwandan culture.
Our forefathers gave livestock to strengthen ties, as means of reconciliation and as a token of appreciation.
Stratton Niyitegeka, a 21-year-old returnee confirms the above.
“I pray God sends me a saint with scholastic materials and cloths. I regret the role of my father in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It caused me grave pain and guilt. If anyone contributed to my welfare, I would consider myself forgiven and once again accepted in my society,” he said.
Here we are, with a long debate of whether material incentives should be used to convince refugees to return home! I absolutely believe in no other yielding means to bring home the 70,000 Rwandan refugees than providing for them, regardless of where they are.
Luckily, I interviewed some returnees in the month of May this year; they repeatedly blamed extreme poverty for their vulnerability. They wouldn’t take for granted any material providence from home; it would symbolize Rwanda’s sympathy, another reason for returning home.
These incentives also eliminate the propaganda that hinders refugees from returning.
“We were told that there is no security in Rwanda. That we would fall victims to violence and no one would follow up on our problems,” said Clementine Uwera, a returnee.
Material incentives help eliminate such misinformation about Rwanda. It is high time refugees get acquainted with the new Rwanda that thinks beyond ethnic differences.
Seventeen years is a long time, and I wouldn’t be surprised that some people in exile still think Rwanda has not moved on.
When they arrive, various returnees credit particular transit camps for the rice, oil and other food provisions. Wouldn’t such supplies cause a positive impact to refugees, uncertain of a day’s meal?
Citizens who love their country always contribute immensely to development. Besides, giving is an effective principle. Jesus started with bread, fish, wine and later giving his life for humankind, a solid reason for his reverence.