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Rwanda: Ensuring durable solutions for Rwanda's displaced: a chapter closed too early

  • Country Statistics
  • Latest IDP figure:
  • Undetermined
  • Number of refugees:
  • (Originating from the country)
    129,109 (UNHCR, June 2010)
  • Total Population:
  • 10 million

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31 December 2008

In 1998 and 1999 around 650,000 people, most of them Hutus, were displaced into makeshift camps in the north-western prefectures of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, when an insurgency there was put down by the Tutsi-dominated government. In 2000, the UN considered that “governmental and international efforts to stabilise the situation through durable solutions have advanced beyond the threshold of what still could be called internal displacement”. These efforts consisted largely of the implementation of the 1996 “villagisation” policy to relocate all Rwandans from scattered homesteads into new villages.

However, difficult conditions in the villages subsequently called into question whether the resettled IDPs had really achieved durable solutions. IDMC observed in 2005 that many of them still lived in inadequate conditions.

In late 2008, the return of refugees from DRC created new reintegration challenges and the risk of their renewed displacement in Burundi. In eastern DRC, joint operations from November between the governments of the two countries weakened the Rwandan Hutu rebels of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) and presented a new chance for thousands of refugees to return to Rwanda.

Some refugees had been prevented from returning home by the FDLR, but they had also been reluctant to return because did not trust the Rwandan Gacaca courts and did not think they would be able to reintegrate. The prospects of returnees and those resettled depends on continuing reconciliation and the equitable distribution and management of scarce land.

Despite ongoing ethnic mistrust and regional instability, their prospects appear fair. The Rwandan government encourages returns and considers returnees as a vulnerable group, at least in the context of economic development.

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Internal Displacement Profile

"Causes and Background","Background","Causes of displacement"
"Population Figures and Profile","Global Figures","Geographical distribution"
"Patterns of Displacement","General"
"Physical Security & Freedom of Movement","Physical security","Freedom of movement"
"Subsistence Needs","Food","Health","Water and sanitation","Shelter and non-food items"
"Access to Education","General"
"Issues of Self-Reliance and Public Participation","Access to Land and to Work"
"Documentation Needs and Citizenship","General"
"Issues of Family Unity, Identity and Culture"," General"
"Property Issues","General"
"Patterns of Return and Resettlement","General"
"Humanitarian Access","General"
"National and International Responses","National Response","International Response"

Previous Profile updates

Stop deporting Rwandans, UN refugeee agency tells Burundi, Agence France-Presse (AFP), 16 October 2009
Review Rwandans’ Asylum Claims, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 16 October 2009
Secretary-General welcomes arrest of alleged participant in Rwanda genocide, United Nations Secretary General (UN SG), 6 October 2009
Recent Reports 
Plan 2010-2011, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), 15 October 2009