News from SURF
Many news reports over the last month have focused on the progress of trials of genocide suspects in Rwanda and internationally. The first genocide suspect to be transferred to Rwanda by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Jean Uwikindi, appeared in court for the first time last week. This will prove to be a landmark case, which will be closely monitored by international observers to determine whether other authorities will extradite suspects back to Rwanda, including four high-profile suspects that remain with impunity here in the UK.
Justice will be served for survivors when these suspects finally do stand trial, but also when reparation is secured for the crimes committed by them. SURF is pursuing, with Redress, this work. Over the past month we have made submissions on the draft law on the termination of gacaca, which we hope to publish in the coming weeks, calling for amendments on how awards of compensation made during gacaca should be enforced. We are also calling on a change in the law on FARG, to protect the right of survivors to make claims for compensation. All of this work will be consolidated in a comprehensive report on the right of genocide survivors in Rwanda to reparation, which we plan to jointly publish next month. It is an exciting new phase of work for SURF, and one that we believe has great potential to deliver the restorative justice for survivors for which we strive.
Over the past month, I have been working as well on finalising our annual report, of which we have just completed the final draft. We plan to send it off to the printers next week to publish a limited run of copies to distribute to supporters primarily in Rwanda. I have highlighed a couple of the sections below in this newsletter, but to dowload the full low-resolution .pdf version then please click here. If you note any errors, then please do email me to let me know by Tuesday before it goest to print!
The past year has been a successful one for Survivors Fund (SURF).
We have not only scaled up many of our flagship projects, but we have developed a number of new and innovative projects as well. Our philosophy continues to be in building the capacity of our partner organisations to develop and deliver more effective projects to support sustainably the genocide survivors in their membership. Through our ongoing work with AVEGA and AERG in particular, we are demonstrating that this is not only possible, but also achievable.
Recording this work is important, however, so is looking forward to the work that we plan to undertake. The year ahead will be a pivotal time for Survivors Fund (SURF) as well as for survivors of the genocide.
Our primary focus will be supporting AVEGA Agahozo to extend the organisation’s work to support widows and orphans of the genocide in the Southern Region and Northern Region of Rwanda. In April 2012 we starta new project funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development (DFID), which will provide direct support to over 10,000 widows of the genocide, and 40,000 of their dependants.
Our HIV+ Survivors Integration Project (SIP) funded by Comic Relief will conclude in September 2012. We will be commissioning an independent evaluation to determine the impact of the two years of work in partnership with AVEGA Agahozo and Solace Ministries. Of specific interest, will be the progress of the work of AVEGA in the two districts of the Western Region where the organisation is currently operational, as we focus on raising funds to extend their work to the other five districts in the region where at present they have no presence.
We will be working to generate additional funding to support the work of AERG, which is critical at this time as many young survivors in membership of the organisation graduate from secondary school with no access to further education. As such, the majority will struggle to secure a job to enable them to support themselves and their families. We will extend our support to the Kigali Language Exchange, Education into Employment programme, One Dollar Campaign and the Nyagatare Goat Farm on which we are currently working with AERG.
The greatest change in our focus in 2012 will be on strengthening our advocacy, and that of our partner organisations. We will be extending our legal aid project in partnership with Redress, as well as developing a new stream of work focused on developing a new international advocacy campaign.
In addition, we will be continuing to scale up our work with Foundation Rwanda to support women survivors of the genocide and the children born to them of rape. There will be no doubt new opportunities that arise over the year ahead too, which will be a busy one but hopefully as productive as the year past.
David Russell (Chief Executive), Liliane Umubyeyi and Nick Joseph (Co-Chairs)
There are many challenges in our work, but we highlight four that are critical to enabling us to rebuild the lives of survivors of the genocide in Rwanda:
Support previously available to genocide survivors in Rwanda through FARG (Government Assistance Fund for Survivors) is beginning to be mainstreamed into the new National Social Protection Strategy that will prioritise survivors alongside a number of other vulnerable groups for such support – including housing, healthcare, and welfare support. It will be critical that survivors monitor and evaluate this transition, to ensure they can access the support available to them;
As the events of the genocide become more distant, the challenge to raise funds to support the survivors becomes ever more difficult with the expectation that the population will have begun to overcome the immediate consequences of the events that they endured, such as the rehabilitation of housing and addressing trauma. However in many cases, the problems for survivors are becoming ever greater as they lack the assistance that was previously available to them through funds such as FARG, and they deal with issues compounded by disability and age;
The greatest challenge for young survivors of the genocide, many of which are orphans, is to secure sustainable employment to provide for themselves and often the households for which they are responsible. As FARG is unable to provide more scholarships to university, it has begun to offer support for vocational training. However the need for such training far outstrips the ability to provide access to it. This is a critical requirement, in particular in the ever increasingly competitive job market in Rwanda since its entry into the East Africa Community (EAC) in 2009;
For Survivors Fund (SURF), the greatest challenge is to meet the continuing need of survivors in Rwanda despite its own limited resources. The SURF office in Rwanda is critical to the work, coordinating projects and strengthening the capacity of our partner organisations, though there is an emotional, psychological and physical strain on the staff of doing so – and a financial strain on the organisation, particularly in respect to increasing transport costs in Rwanda.
Just a reminder as ever that you can follow us on twitter and facebook to keep abreast of our news and developments.
As ever, thank you for your continuing support.
Director, Survivors Fund (SURF)