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Kivu: Six years after the tragedy in Rwanda, children still being reunited with their families

10-08-2000 News Release 00/30

In early August, 27 Rwandan children crossed the border at Goma, in Kivu province (eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo), into Rwanda, where they were finally reunited with their families in the " land of a thousand hills " . They had not set foot in their home country in six years.

The Rwandan genocide caused nearly two million people to flee to neighbouring countries, and in the course of this unprecedented exodus many children were separated from their families. Since 1994, the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations have registered nearly 75,000 unaccompanied Rwandan children who took refuge in Tanzania, Burundi and in the camps situated in Kivu. Today, thanks to the endeavours of humanitarian organizations, the Red Cross message network and the active efforts of their own relatives to find them, more than 67,000 children have been reunited with their families.

Six years after the tragic events in Rwanda, the tracing and family reunification programme is still under way. Although the number of cases has diminished, every day the ICRC and the National Society still find Rwandan children who have no one to care for them or are living with host families. Once they are identified, the children are sheltered in reception centres in Goma until the ICRC can locate their relatives.

The ICRC is currently monitoring the cases of nearly 500 unaccompanied children who are temporarily living in these centres. The repatriation of 27 Rwandan children in early August gives hope that, despite the time that has gone by, all these children will soon find their way back to their homes and families.