Uprooting The Rural Poor In Rwanda

The Rwandan government has violated the basic rights of tens of thousands of people by forcing them to abandon their homes in rural areas and move to makeshift dwellings in government-designated sites, Human Rights Watch charges in this report.

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The Rwandan government has violated the basic rights of tens of thousands of people by forcing them to abandon their homes in rural areas and move to makeshift dwellings in government-designated sites, Human Rights Watch charges in this report. The government's massive plan to reorganize life in the rural areas, known as the National Habitat Policy, decreed an end to Rwandans' customary way of living in dispersed homesteads. Many homeowners were forced to destroy their own homes and many families lived for more than a year in hovels made of sticks, mud, and banana leaves. Some who resisted the plan were punished with fines or jail terms, the Human Rights Watch report says. The 91-page report, "Uprooting the Rural Poor in Rwanda," says that from early 1997 through the end of 2000 hundreds of thousands of Rwandans living in Kibungo, Mutara, Kigali-rural, and Ruhengeri provinces left their homes for the sites. Ninety percent of Rwandans live in the countryside and are supposed to be affected by the policy.

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