News & CommentaryArchive
Feb 18, 2009
Follow Up: Investing in the Future of Rwanda and Congo
Recently we wrote about the difficult choices faced by philanthropists who have been investing in Rwanda. The Rwandan government’s current joint military operations with the Congolese army to finally dismantle the remains of militia groups that participated in the 1994 genocide creates an unequivocal opportunity for philanthropic investment no matter how one feels about the politics of the Rwandan government.
Stephanie McCrummen reports in the Washington Post that the number of members of the Hutu militias voluntarily laying down arms and arriving at demobilization camps has increased 10 fold in the last month, no doubt at least in part as a result of the Rwandan military operations. Most if not all of these former combatants fled Rwanda as children, caught up in the genocide and its aftermath. Official Rwandan policy is that these combatants are welcome to return to Rwanda if they voluntarily surrender. Of course, the practicalities of demobilization and reintegration are far more complex. Perhaps the chief challenge of any post-conflict situation is reintegrating former combatants as productive members of society. The success of reintegration programs is decidedly mixed—as can be seen in reports from US AID and the World Bank on efforts in places like El Salvador, Angola, South Africa and Bosnia. But the alternative, leaving these former combatants to fend for themselves, is certainly worse.
For those concerned about the future of East and Central Africa and finally ending the various conflicts that have claimed more than 5 million lives, ensuring that remnants of Hutu militias can create peaceful livelihoods should be a top priority.