On Tuesday, February 19th, 2020, Amb Imai visited Mutobo Demobilization Centre in Musanze district and was impressed with how Rwanda repatriated ex-combatants, allowing them to settle in as Rwandan citizens, a practice he said is uniquely Rwandan.
His visit aimed at assessing the implementation and results of different initiatives Japan sponsors in Rwanda including inculcating technical skills to handicapped demobilized soldiers from 2005 to 2008.
Other initiatives financed by the government of Japan include supporting ex-militia and other handicapped fighters in finding jobs from 2011 to 2014 through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Amb Masahiro said that teaching technical skills to ancient rebels is a pillar to development, unity, and reconciliation in Rwanda.
“I am really impressed with the strides Rwanda has been making to repatriate ex-rebels. This doesn’t exist anywhere else, even in Japan. Our government will keep supporting financially these initiatives, increase its investment and promote trade deals between Rwanda and Japan.” He said that Japan will keep sponsoring Mutobo Demobilization Centre.
Rtd Lt Col Fred Nyamurangwa, the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) commissioner said that the support Mutobo center received from the government of Japan allowed the ex-rebels to move forward in their lives especially those who acquired technical skills.
“Some ex-rebels have become entrepreneurs after acquiring technical skills from the center and can currently fulfill all their financial needs. It is a great thing that ex-combatants will be allowed to rejoin their family and join hands with the Rwandan community in building our country.”
Recently, more than 300 women who were part of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been repatriated and are receiving civic education while 166 among them have started technical courses.
The repatriated ex-militia said they were surprised by how they were received in Rwanda and the support they receive from the government of Rwanda to settle in afresh.
48-year old Habiyaremye Patrick is one of the ex-militia who lost his right arm in combat. He said that he didn’t gain from being part of armed groups for 25 years in DRC forests. However, he said that after receiving training from the Mutobo demobilization center, he chose to become a farmer for a living.
“I am proud I will get to contribute to the development of my country. The knowledge I will gain from here will allow me to practice modern agriculture and earn a living through it.”
Nyirahabimana Leoncie who is now a tailor said she left DRC forests in August 2019 and that she has hope that the knowledge she has received will give her and her 3 children a decent life since her husband died while they were still in Congo.
Mutobo Demobilization Center has hosted up to 11,000 people until now, most of them being ex-rebels who receive civic education and are trained in various fields including couture, construction, farming, and modern livestock rearing.
Apart from financing the government of Rwanda initiatives through JICA, the government of Japan has established a wider footprint in trade activities from 7 to 30 organizations.