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Rwanda: ICRC helps unaccompanied children

07-09-2001 News Release 01/35

The ICRC has restored contact between 64 unaccompanied children in a camp in Mudende (Gisenyi province), which was opened on 20 June by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, and their families. Most of these minors — including in particular a group of highly vulnerable child soldiers — had been without news of their loved ones for years because of the Rwandan conflict and genocide and their aftermath.

Some 1,600 military personnel and civilians who surrendered to or were captured by the Rwandan Patriotic Army are in the camp. Of these, 141 minors under 18 years of age were immediately given the opportunity to write Red Cross messages to their families. At the request of the Rwandan authorities and in order to respond to the growing need to restore family links, the ICRC is now making its Red Cross message network available to everyone in the camp. A total of 384 messages have thus far been sent and 195 replies have already been received.

The ICRC is pursuing efforts, which complement those of UNICEF, to restore family links that it had already undertaken on behalf of 233 minors who were recently transferred from the Mudende camp to a re-education centre in Gitagata (Kigali Ngali province). A total of 63 more minors have recently arrived in the camps in Mudende and Nkumba (Ruhengeri province), where ICRC visits also continue.