Lamin Manneh. Launching of the Government of Rwanda and the One UN Joint Programme “Sustainable Return and Reintegration of Rwandan Returnees"
Honorable Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs
Permanent Secretaries and Executive Secretaries,
Heads of UN agencies and International Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a great pleasure and honor for me to co-chair the launch of the Program for Sustainable Return and Reintegration of Rwandan Returnees in my capacity as the Resident Coordinator of the One UN in Rwanda.
First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the Government of Rwanda for its leadership role in support of this initiative to develop an elaborate a comprehensive program in collaboration with the UN family in Rwanda in support of Rwandans who are returning home after many years of living in exile. The launch of this programme shows the commitment of the Government of Rwanda to tackle the emerging issues and challenges that may confront the protection and livelihood of returnees.
I would also like to acknowledge and commend the direct coordinating role being played by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs and especially under the leadership of the Honorable Minister for the support and partnership in fulfilling the Ministry’s mandate through this program. As the country strives to meet the targets of its development objectives outlined in the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) and the Vision 2020, it is our collective responsibility to support the Government and society at large in sustaining and deepening development and the transformative processes in the country.
Indeed, the Country has made very significant advances and has shown a strong commitment to rebuilding and strengthening national capacity for real transformative change and ensuring durable social cohesion. Rwanda’s Vision 2020 sets a clear national vision, with economic and social transformation at the heart of the agenda to empower Rwandan citizens and enable them to have dignified lives. Evidently, Rwanda’s approach to development that fosters citizen-centred and home-grown solutions has led to impressive achievements over the last decades. Dynamic and innovative initiatives, such as the Imihigo, Umuganda, National Dialogue, and most recently, the Agachiro Development Fund, are unique and exemplary and should be emulated across the continent
The remarkable and visible changes that I have witnessed in Rwanda over the years is a testimony to the fact that, with dedication to a sound vision, commitment, and self-less hard work that the people of Rwanda have shown, people’s lives can be transformed. I commend the leadership and the Government of Rwanda for continuously demonstrating strong leadership and ownership of the development processes in the Country as well as facilitating a favourable environment for the successful return of Rwandans back home to this land of a thousand possibilities.
Honorable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The reintegration of Rwandans who have been living in exile for many years is a noble initiative and on behalf of the UN family, I commend the efforts of the government in championing the process so diligently and proactively. Many Rwandans are voluntarily returning home to a peaceful, secure and determined country to be reintegrated into their communities of origin. There are several success stories worth noting about this noble initiative: Success stories coming from ordinary people enjoying their right to return. ‘there’s no place like home”, said Nseyimana, a 33 year- old returnee (from the DRC) who had left Rwanda with his parents when he was only 15. According to him,
“Upon my return, local authorities in my Sector were more than willing to help me get settled.”
This is what this program is all about: The overall objective is to ensure that the returnees are being assisted and that they can live their life in dignity, at home.
I was positively touched by yet another returnee story, 11-year Joseph Nkundimana who said:
“I was born in Congo Brazzaville and did not have the chance to know my mother since she died when I was very young. When I returned to Rwanda family tracing was immediately launched and I was reunited with my paternal aunt on 18th November 2011. The sight of my aunt filled my eyes with tears of joy as I reminisced about my late father”.
The story of these two returnees is the story of many other returnees. It is a story of courage and patriotism and above all, it is a story of emotional healing for many Rwandans. This is why, we at the UN feel honored to be associated with Rwanda at this important period of reintegration.
Being a refugee is usually a temporary situation meant to end when the conditions are right and appropriate for a return to one’s home of origin. In Rwanda, these conditions are right and more than appropriate. Time has come for Rwandan refugees to come back home to a place where they can enjoy the safety, and hope for a brighter future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The return and reintegration process is ongoing and on behalf of the UN, I am personally committed to support this important program because it provides a durable and satisfying solution to the problem of the Rwandan refugees. This Joint Programme provides an opportunity to reunify the country. The Programme is designed to effectively support the government’s commitment and was designed in an inclusive and participatory manner based on a shared and common understanding of the needs of returning refugees (returnees). It endeavour to addresses key aspects of the lives of people returning home including issues related to governance, health, education, food security, income generation activities, capacity building etc.
Furthermore, the initiative is a joint program because it was jointly conceived and designed by the Government and the United Nations comprising six relevant government ministries and six UN agencies. MIDIMAR and UNHCR will coordinate the technical committee on behalf of the government and the One UN respectively. Through this program we hope to provide the necessary and immediate support to returnees, provide for their basic and immediate needs, create a variety of opportunities for returnees to effectively reintegrate and successfully provide for their own livelihood through income generating activities.
Your Excellencies, and
In closing therefore, allow me to again congratulate the Government of Rwanda under the leadership of President Kagame for initiating and supporting through the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, this very important program. We strongly believe that the reintegration of the returnees will play an important role in Rwanda’s development, hence our collective support to this joint initiative. I note also that resources are indeed limited and therefore the success of this program will in a large part depend on our collective ability to jointly mobilize more resources in support of this noble and strategic program. It is in the same spirit of “jointness” that I hope the implementation of program activities will be carried out and indeed, the objectives of this joint program achieved.
As Rwanda progresses on its path towards more transformation, all of us would need to continue to play our role to facilitate and ensure that this noble and collective objective is accomplished. Here in lies our collective commitment to support the Government and people of this great country in their development endeavor through initiatives such as the “Return and Reintegration Program”. Again, I wish to congratulate MIDIMAR and the participating government ministries and all the participating UN agencies as well as the other development partners for this strategic initiative and for having organized this event.
I wish you all a very productive and successful launching exercise and effective program implementation.
I thank you for your attention:
Merci and Murakoze Cyane!