Home  >>  News >> Top news >> In Rwanda >> 

Rwanda’s Batwa in Trouble after ‘extinction’ UN Human Rights Expert Says

Where are the Batwa? Are they part of Rwanda? Every Rwandan national should sit back and think about this.

The Batwa minority group of Rwanda try all kinds of jobs for survival.

Expulsion of Rwanda’s Batwa people from their forest habitat has forced them to live as beggars and put them in danger of “extinction,” a United Nations human rights expert has said.

The comments by Evelyne Hohoueto Afiwa-Kindena were made during the course of a periodic UN committee review of Rwanda’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Ms Afiwa-Kindena, a review committee member and its monitor for Rwanda, said the Batwa suffer acute poverty along with discrimination in education, housing and employment.

Rwanda’s Batwa, also known as Pygmies, are estimated to number about 30,000 in a country of close to 12 million people.

The Batwa are among several groups of traditional hunters who have long lived in Central Africa and the Great Lakes region.

The marginalized batwa people of Rwanda live under poor conditions.

Ms Afiwa-Kindena noted that the Batwa had been evicted from their lands following the 1994 Rwanda genocide to make way for creation of national parks.

“These forests were an integral part of their livelihood,” she said, according to a committee report on the Rwanda review session.

“Batwa were now obliged to live by begging,” Ms Afiwa-Kindena added.

“Without the adoption of specific measures protecting them, the Batwa risked extinction.”

Committee members urged the Rwanda government to give special attention to alleviating the plight of the Batwa.

Ambassador Francois Xavier Ngarambe, Rwanda’s representative to the UN Office at Geneva, said in response that the legacy of the anti-Tutsi genocide had led the government to forge a single Rwandan identity “where all were equal before the law and enjoyed the same rights.”
Twa woman

“The government did not consider any group of Rwandans as distinct from others,” Ambassador Ngarambe added.

“Rwanda had resolved to never again return to the politics of divisionism and the policies of racialisation and marginalization.”

Any objective observation showed that members of formerly marginalised communities now have access to health, education and employment services without discrimination, the Rwanda delegate said.

By Robert Muriisa.

Follow Us on Facebook and Twitter

Leave your comment

Your Name

Your Email

Your comment

Close X