The effectiveness of re-integration of female ex-combatants : Rwanda as a case study.
Umurerwa, Rosemarie Aurore.
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The disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and reinsertion of ex-combatants generally and female ex-combatants specifically constitute one of the most fundamental activities in the 1994 post-genocide and war period in Rwanda. Initiated in 1997, the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) had the task of supporting the effective social and economic reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life so as to realise national security, reconciliation, development, and sustainable peace. The findings of this study show that there is a tendency to regard former combatants as a homogenous group, overlooking significant variations based on gender, age, disability, military ranking, education and vocational skills, which are found in even small groupings. This study found that the needs, capacities and expectations of former combatants tend to be wide ranging, depending on these specificities/characteristics. On the whole, the transition from reinsertion to reintegration is often marked by drawn-out processes, and considerable difficulty in catering to all beneficiaries and developing comprehensive programmes. The findings revealed that, as they re-join their former communities, female ex-combatants are often affected differently in terms of identity crises, stigma, stereotypes, trauma, vulnerability, and power relations within society through intra-house and social relations. Even though the RDRC has made some progress, it has become clear that more needs to be done to help female ex-combatants through the reintegration programme. From the viewpoints expressed by the respondents during focus group discussions, one can conclude that in the planning of reinsertion assistance, it is imperative that the overall socioeconomic dynamics and the challenge of poverty are factored in as key variables to minimize resentment and marginalisation of broader war-affected communities. This would ensure a better linkage between reinsertion and reintegration, contributing to the sustainability of the identity transformation of female ex-combatants.