25 March 2019

Rwanda: Genocide - Over 40,000 Victims to Be Reburied in Rukumberi

Photo: Nadege Imbabazi/New Times
The first phase of renovation of Rukumberi memorial site, is close to completion.

Genocide survivors and authorities in Ngoma District will on May 26 put remains of over 40,000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi to their decent final resting place, following the completion of the Rukumberi Genocide Memorial.

The new memorial, officials say, will accommodate remains from mainly the old site that is dilapidated while others will be taken from a nearby pentecostal church.

May 26 will also be the official commemoration day at the district level in Ngoma.

The issue of the memorial has continuously come up at different events, be it at the district or at the provincial level, where several leaders have promised to complete it and give the Genocide victims a decent burial.

Particularly at Genocide commemoration events, survivors have always beseeched authorities to ensure their loved ones have a decent final resting place.

Budget constraints were cited for years as the main stumbling block, but the district eventually put the construction in three phases that Mayor Aphrodise Nambaje estimates will cost around Rwf800 million once complete.

The first phase, though, which is in this year's performance contracts of the district, involves constructing new mass graves and reburying the bodies.

The main old site was home to around 38,000 victims while a small one at ADEPR Church contained over 1,800.

The remains have been exhumed and are currently being prepared for reburial.

The new graves have capacity for 45,000 bodies, "because there are many more we have not found yet, for which we do not even know the exact number."

Nambaje said the search for victims who have never got decent burial continues and that they will be transferred to the new memorial as they continue to be discovered.

According to the project's masterplan, other phases will include rehabilitation of the old sites, since they will remain memorial sites, despite having no victims buried there.

Last year, a special commemoration event was organised in Rukumberi and during the event 30 victims were buried at the old memorial.

Rukumberi is one of the areas that experienced the most gruesome atrocities during the Genocide.

Long before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Tutsi families were relocated to the formerly isolated area by the former regime with the intention of being killed by the poor living conditions and disease, including the African sleeping sickness caused by the tsetse flies."

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