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Update No. 97/03 on ICRC activities in Rwanda

07-04-1997 Operational Update

 Over 100,000 detainees registered by the ICRC  

The ICRC's activities in Rwanda continued gradually to return to normal during the past few weeks. Delegates restarted their visits to between one and two thirds of communal lock-ups in all prefectures except Ruhengeri and Gisenyi. They are working hard to make up the delays in registring new detainees resulting from the recent constraints imposed by security conditions. Registration is important because it allows them to follow up detainees individually and thus to afford them protection. By the end of March, a total of 102,446 detainees had been registered by the ICRC in Rwanda. Of these, 63,920 were held in prisons and 38,526 in communal lock-ups. However, because of frequent delays between the time of arrest and registration, the actual number of detainees is estimated to be several thousand higher.

The ICRC is very concerned about the fact that overcrowding, which has always been a severe problem in many Rwandan places of detention, is clearly growing worse by the week, especially in communal lock-ups. In addition to registering detainees, delegates place special emphasis on oral and written representations to the local and central authorities to improve conditions of detention.

 Assistance for prisoners  

Because of ongoing food shortages in many places of detention, the ICRC, at the request of the Ministry of Justice, provides supplementary food assistance sufficient to meet at least some of the detainees'nutritional requirements. In one week alone, 176.8 tonnes of f ood were delivered to the prisons of Kigali, Butare 1 and 2, Cyangugu, Kibuye, Gikongoro, Nsinda and Nyanza. A total 31,471 detainees received 82.7 tonnes of cereals, 89.7 tonnes of beans, 2.8 tonnes of oil, 1.6 tonnes of salt and a supply of soap. Detainees held in Cyangugu prison were given 532 blankets, 36 jerrycans and 266 plates and cups.

 Unaccompanied children still a priority  

Delegates continue to register unaccompanied children and look after others who have not yet been reunited with their families. To assist with finding the families of some 300 children who are too young to give their names or places of origin, the ICRC has compiled a brochure showing a photograph of each child and any relevant information, such as the place where it was found. The brochure is distributed throughout Rwanda to help parents locate their children. A second edition including the newly arrived children is currently being compiled. The ICRC is also working together with other humanitarian organizations in repatriating unaccompanied children from eastern Zaire to Rwanda. 

 Assistance for survivors of the genocide and other vulnerable people   

The Runyinya project, under which houses are being built for almost 400 women and children who survived the genocide, continues and is expected to be completed by the end of April. To restore the self-sufficiency of other vulnerable groups, a number of agricultural, bee-keeping and knitting projects have been launched.

The school feeding programme has restarted in the prefectures of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri. Distributions are car ried out by the Rwandan Red Cross Society. The last two weeks, 104.5 tonnes of cereals, 89.2 tonnes of beans, 4.2 tonnes of oil and 4.3 tonnes of salt were handed out to 6,505 pupils. Some 1,200 orphans have returned to school after the ICRC provided them with school kits and paid their tuition fees.

During the same period, a total of 1,515 vulnerable people received 16.1 tonnes of cereals, 6.1 tonnes of beans, 2.8 tonnes of oil and 2.5 tonnes of salt.