Rwanda remembers

The lighting of the Kwibuka Flame at the Commonwealth Secretariat

Diplomats and MPs joined the High Commisioner for Rwanda HE Mr Williams Nkurunziza and more than 700 Rwandans in Birmingham to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the 1994 Genocide.

The event marked the culmination of a 100-day journey of the Kwibuka (Remembrance) Flame, which was lit at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and travelled to Rwandan communities in 12 cities across the UK.

Joining the gathering was the Rt Hon Eric Pickles, Secretary for Communities and Local Government, who praised Rwandans for an extraordinary journey of recovery and reconstruction over the last two decades.

Andrew Mitchell MP added that the world could learn from Rwanda’s example and its commitment to the concept of the Responsibility to Protect, noting that Rwanda was the first country to deploy troops in Darfur.

In his remarks at the ceremony, the High Commissioner of Rwanda to UK Williams Nkurunziza echoed the theme of the Kwibuka commemorations – Remember, Unite, Renew – and called on all Rwandans “to be together; to be accountable, and to think big”.

The High Commissioner thanked Rwanda’s friends in the international community, and Britain in particular, for supporting Rwanda’s efforts in its remarkable recovery.

Since 1994, 98 per cent of children are enrolled in universal primary education, while infant mortality has declined by an average of 11 per cent over the past twenty years and is now in line with the global average.

In terms of poverty reduction, more than a million people have been lifted above the poverty line in the past five years.

Rampant diseases such as Malaria and HIV have also been tamed, with the HIV prevalence rate down to 3 per cent.

Nkurunziza concluded with a challenge to the international community to draw lessons from the Rwanda and work to ensure history does not repeat itself.

“In the spirit of the Responsibility to Protect – R2P – the world must do more to prevent the extreme inhumanity of man to his fellow men.

“The fear to engage in the face of a known and unfolding catastrophe is a betrayal of our common humanity.

“Inaction is neither humane nor cheap. It costs lives, steals the dreams of our youths and astronomically escalates the burden of peace building,” he noted.