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Once Rwandan authorities grafted the imidugudu policy onto internationally-funded housing programs, they began frequently citing reconciliation as one of the objectives of the policy. They asserted that relocating all rural-dwellers and obliging landholders to divide their land with returnees was essential to avoiding conflict between groups. These measures may have avoided some disputes in the short-term but have laid the grounds for longer-term conflict now taking shape among citizens and between citizens and the authorities.241

Officials early on acknowledged the risks of having Tutsi returnees and survivors of genocide living in imidugudu apart from the surrounding Hutu population. They have cited these risks in explaining the importance of moving all the rest of rural-dwellers into settlements as well. But relatively few of the imidugudu created so far are ethnically mixed. A report published in September 1999 concluded that "in most cases" the imidugudu comprised people of a single ethnic group, an assertion confirmed by observations of Human Rights Watch researchers.242 A UNHCR evaluation team reported that twenty of twenty-nine imidugudu which they visited in late 1999 were inhabited by people of one ethnic group.243 The move to imidugudu may even have promoted ethnic segregation by disturbing previously existing housing patterns, which were often ethnically diverse.

In those imidugudu which were ethnically mixed, the resources available to Hutu were often much less than those available to Tutsi, a difference which exacerbated tensions in some cases. In Bicumbi commune, near Kigali, Tutsi returnees live on one side of the road in solid adobe brick houses, coated with cement and with strong roofs, built with UNHCR funds. Hutu from the surrounding area, who moved to the settlement later, are clustered on the other side of the road in shelters of wood, mud, and plastic sheeting. One resident said she thought that the houses were different "because they are Tutsi and we are not."244 The same situation, complete with ill-feeling between those who had received different levels of assistance, was reported by UNHCR evaluators for imidugudu in Kagabiro, Kibuye prefecture.245

An elderly woman in Ruhengeri explained that when she moved, as she was told she would have to do shortly, she did not expect any help from the authorities. She laughed and said:

Only "those who own the country" (bene `gihugu) get assistance. . . You know,
those who left in 1959, like those who live in Kimonyi umudugudu in Mukingo
commune. . . . If you want [to see the difference], go to Kinigi near the forest.
There are people in sheeting and grass there. When the rain falls, it falls on them,
even though they had solid houses before! We are waiting to be like those in
Kinigi. If they didn't give assistance to Kinigi, our case will doubtless be like

One woman in the northwest still living in the solid home in which she invested all her savings, spoke bitterly of the order to destroy the only property she has left after years of war: "People are very sad. This is an act of revenge. It is a vengeance. There is a local official who supposedly said `[Tutsi] left in 1959 and their homes were destroyed then. Why don't you want to destroy yours?' People see this as a subtle form of vengeance."247

According to foreign experts who keep track of assistance provided to residents of imidugudu, settlements inhabited by Tutsi returnees and survivors of the genocide ordinarily received more services, such as health care, as well as better housing.248

In July 2000 members of the Twa ethnic group, a minority which now amounts to less than one percent of the population, complained that they received even fewer benefits than other Rwandans under the imidugudu policy. Historically scorned by both Hutu and Tutsi, they rarely received land or houses in the new settlements.249

In some cases, Tutsi received more or better resources than Hutu because donors had designated returnees or survivors of genocide as recipients of their aid. In other cases donors specified that aid was to go to all needy persons, but local residents-mainly Hutu-moved to imidugudu after the resources were largely exhausted. While some obtained at least roofing materials, the most expensive item for building a house, others came when there was nothing left and had to make do with a piece of plastic sheeting. Officials occasionally tried to remedy the situation by pressing higher authorities for aid or by trying to create local mechanisms for assistance. In early 2000 the then prefect of Gisenyi, for example, told a Human Rights Watch researcher that he tried to establish a small operation to produce cheap roofing materials for those now living under plastic sheeting.250

Many Hutu believe that they have lost more from the imidugudu policy than have Tutsi, but there are cases where Tutsi too have suffered extreme hardship. In addition to those mentioned above, two groups of returnees attracted considerable attention for the hardship they endured in 2000.

More than 12,000 Tutsi returnees from the Congo were settled in the Gishwati forest beginning in 1995 "to help the army protect security."251 They were expected to occupy the uninhabited regions and make it less likely that insurgents could establish bases there. Subsequently cattleowners from elsewhere in the country sent their herds to the well-watered and productive forest area, reputed to be excellent for cattle-raising. A parliamentary commission investigated the increasing cattle population and the damage to the forest, one of the rare stands left in Rwanda. Officials decided to move the people. In late 1999, the minister of local government ordered the families to leave the land they had cleared and cultivated. For months, authorities offered virtually no assistance and the displaced people huddled in plastic tents in several camps. In August 2000 the government offered them new places to settle in several northwestern communes. The officials said they decided to remove the families because they became aware of the damage being done to the natural environment. Some of the displaced, echoed by the press, questioned if this were the reason-or, in any case, the only reason-for the decision. They said that the large herds of cattle belonging to important people in the prefectural and national capital remained in the forest and grew fat, in part from eating the crops they were forced to leave behind.252

In a second case, some Tutsi returnees who settled originally in the southeast later moved to Cyangugu where they arrived too late to benefit from the original generous support to repatriates. Most obtained no fields and received food assistance only occasionally. One elderly man who headed a household that included his wife and eight others, including three widowed daughters and their children, recounted what happened when the commune announced that it was preparing a list of the needy. Seventy-four families asked to be listed, but officials insisted that only twenty names could be taken. He continued,

We live like that. It is God who keeps us alive. Like birds that fly in the air.
And help we get from others, those who come with a little food for us.
I don't know how we happened to get aid this month. Since we are not
strong enough to struggle with the crowd to get beans, we yelled at them
to help and they helped us. . . . They decided to give us two kilo of beans.
Imagine two kilo of beans for a family of ten! It is not enough for even
two people.253

In early 2000 the severely malnourished received some food from churches and religious congregations, but not nearly enough.254 According to news reports on Radio Rwanda, ten people died of hunger in this area in late January and another 4,400 were at risk because of severe malnutrition in September. 255

In interviews with Human Rights Watch researchers, residents of imidugudu expressed anger at government authorities, both for imposing the rural reorganization and for instances of corruption related to it. They complained about the as yet unresolved accusations of corruption at the national level which may have deprived them of needed assistance.0 Others recounted with disgust the corruption that they have seen at local level. In an umudugudu near the offices of Muhazi commune, for example, soldiers, communal policemen, and administrative officials used local detainees to make adobe bricks for new houses which they apparently intended to occupy or rent to others. They roofed the houses with materials provided by international assistance. Tutsi and Hutu residents of the umudugudu, whether returnees, genocide survivors, or others, did not dispose of such free abundant labor and they built their houses more slowly. By the time they were ready to ask for roofing materials, there were none left. As a result, some of the residents have lived more than two years in blindés covered with grass.1 Elsewhere citizens and the press accused local officials of having taken bribes to allocate lands in or around imidugudu, of having distributed houses or larger plots of lands to favorites, and of having excused others from having to give land to serve as settlement sites.2

The loss of resources, conflicts over land, the inhumane conditions of life, and the growing hunger all have exacerbated fear and anger, hardly conditions likely to promote reconciliation.

241 RISD, "Land Use," paragraph 3.4.2; Hilhorst and van Leeuwen, "Villagisation in Rwanda," p. 46.

242 RISD, "Land Use," paragraph 3.4.2.

243 Laurent and Bugnion, "External Evaluation of the UNHCR Shelter Program," p. xi.

244 Human Rights Watch interview, Bicumbi, Kigali-rural, October 26, 2000.

245 Laurent and Bugnion, "External Evaluation of the UNHCR Shelter Program," p. xi.

246 Human Rights Watch interview, Ruhengeri, May 26, 2000.

247 Human Rights Watch interview, Kigali, November 27, 1999.

248 Human Rights Watch interview, Kigali, May 25, 2000.

249 Human Rights Watch interviews, Kigali, July 11, 2000; United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network, Great Lakes, Focus on the Twa People, July 5, 2000.

250 Human Rights Watch interview, Gisenyi, January 14, 2000.

251 Jean Baptiste Mugunga, "Cry of Alarm at Gishwati," Journal Rushyashya, no. 15, December 1999.

252 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interviews, Gisenyi, March 4, 2000; Badege Aloys Habimana, "Wisdom Needed for the Gishwati Case" and "8500 Hectares in Gishwati Can Be Inhabited," Imvaho Nshya, no. 1319, January 17-23, 2000, pp. 6-8.

253 Human Rights Watch interview, Kamembe commune, Cyangugu, May 17, 2000.

254 Human Rights Watch interview, Cyangugu, May 16, 2000.

255 Radio Rwanda, news reports, January 21-23, September 7, 2000.

0 See Rwanda Newsline, March 13-36, 2000 for accounts of accusations against the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Social Reinsertion; Niyonsaba Anselme, "Commune Rutongo: Communal Authorities Work Poorly," Ukuri, 97, vol. 2, March 1999.

1 Human Rights Watch interviews and observations, Muhazi, Kibungo, April 15, 1999.

2 Human Rights Watch interview, Gisenyi, October 30, 1999. For an example, see Isaie Karangwa, "Serious Problems with Land in Muvumba Commune," Ukuri, vol. 2, March 1999; also RISD, "Land Use," paragraph and paragraph 4.

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