3 April 2019

Rwanda: Millions Still Stressed 25 Years After Genocide

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
Visitors read messages on the Genocide at Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre (file photo).

Kigali — MILLIONS of people still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder 25 years after the genocide that claimed at least 800 000 minority Tutsis in Rwanda.

The revelation comes ahead of the East African country commemorating the genocide on Sunday.

Handicap International (HI) disclosed almost one in three people still suffer the trauma. The country has a population of over 12 million people.

It is estimated more than one in five people suffer depression.

Chantal Umurungi, psychologist and coordinator of mental health projects for HI in Rwanda, said the genocide had devastating effects on the mental health of the population and led to other indirect consequences such as drug use, risky sexual practices, violence and conflict.

"This context impoverishes families and weakens the social bond," Umurungi added.

Umurugi said daily, the trauma of the genocide was buried and repressed but memories came back during commemoration periods.

"The victims can relive panic attacks and the loss of their loved ones. Mutual support in this period of suffering is essential and the sharing of feelings very liberating."

Thousands of Tutsis died during the atrocities in April 1994.

A small number of Hutus opposed to the genocide were also killed over four months.

Members of the Hutu political elite, many of whom occupied positions in government, organised the mass murders.

Perpetrators were from the army and government-backed militias.

The genocide ended after the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by current president, Paul Kagame, took control of the country.

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