Rwanda begins renovation works on Rukumberi Genocide memorial site

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Rwanda has commenced renovation works on Rukumberi Genocide Memorial Site after decades of delays by budget constraints.

Ngoma District’s vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs, Providence Kirenga said that the first phase of the project is budgeted to cost US $332,000 out of which US $271000 will be used into the new mass grave alone.

“The first phase is of constructing a standard grave. This will end in March as we look to exhume and rebury the remains during the upcoming 100 days of commemoration of the Genocide,”said Vice Mayor Kirenga.

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Rukumberi Genocide memorial site

Rukumberi is one of the areas that experienced unique atrocities during the Genocide. Targeted people were relocated there 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.

The current mass grave in Rukumberi was set up in 2001, where more than 38,000 bodies of victims of the Genocide, are buried. However, it was not up to standard. Whenever it rained, water seeped into the grave and this was a constant cause of concern. In 2005, survivors made the first appeal to have the memorial worked on.

Phase two of the project will include construction of the memorial site’s history section to educate and preserve the memory. Construction process will be handled in next year’s budget.

“We are happy to see this memorial finally being given the attention it deserves. It is heartbreaking to see the place where your people are buried in a very sorry state. We have for so long wanted to see the remains of our people properly interred and the history of what happened here during the 1994 Genocide, and years before, in the 1950s, preserved,” said Kirenga.

“After 25 years, more than 40,000 bodies buried in the current grave are going to be given a decent home different from the one previously constructed during the emergency period,” acknowledged Fred Mufulukye, the Governor of the Eastern Province.