20th Commemoration of the Rwanda Genocide observed in Eritrea

KWIBUKA20 Remember, Unite, Renew

ASMARA: 27 June 2014

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THE United Nations in Eritrea was joined by Government officials, PFDJ officials, diplomats and community members in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide in Asmara on 27 June 2014.

UN staff collaborated with community members, youth and women’s organizations and planted 400 trees provided by the Government in Beleza village, 10 kilometres out of Asmara. The UN staff also cleaned a portion of the Airport Road in front of the main UN Compound.

Global Umuganda

Inspired by the important part “umuganda” (community work) plays in the Rwandan society, the UN appreciated having the chance to come together with the Eritrean people to do something for their local community. Global Umuganda has been carried out all over the world in marking the 20th commemoration of the Genocide.

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“Global Umuganda is about coming together to improve the world around us, and today we do this by planting trees and cleaning the city. We do this in remembrance of the victims of the genocide, but also in solidarity with the Eritrean people,” remarked the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Christine N. Umutoni.

Remembrance and resilience

The commemoration concluded with Government officials, diplomats and UN staff congregating for a sombre evening function at Asmara Palace Hotel. To help them reflect and look ahead, guests were shown short films, pictures and testimonies from the genocide period. Rwandan youth and Eritrean children recited poems charged with progressive sentiments to take Rwanda and the world beyond the agony of genocide.

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The presentations reminded guests of the 100 dark days in 1994 during which over 1,000,000 people were killed. A moment of silence was observed for the victims and the Flame of Remembrance, “Urumuri Rutazima”, was lit to symbolise remembrance plus the resilience and courage of Rwandans over the past twenty years.

Forging a better future

In her remarks for the evening, Ms. Umutoni, herself a Rwandan national, read the UN Secretary General’s message for the day, emphasizing the importance of world peace. And, quoting President Kagame of Rwanda, highlighted the choices the Rwandans have made, namely “to stay together, to be accountable and to think big”.

“In short this entails looking to the future without forgetting the past, but learning from it. And also to not let a difficult past continue to stain the present, but to rise above it and use the lessons to forge a better future”, she concluded.

Head of Political Affairs at People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, Mr. Yemane Gebreab, commended the organization of the event in Eritrea; relating to the country’s history he added,

“On this day last week, we remembered our own martyrs. Tonight we pledge to never forget the 1994 genocide, but we also rejoice in the resilience shown by the Rwandan people,”

The President of the National Union of Eritrean Women, Mrs. Luul Gebreab, underlined the importance of how Rwanda has risen out of it’s difficult past and said Eritrean men and women are encouraged by that, and that they pledge to promote peace at home and in the rest of the world.

Ms. Monica Sandri, UNHCR representative in Eritrea, and the Master of Ceremony, brought the evening to a close with these words:

“Thank you to the Rwandan people, for showing us that it is possible to forgive, to move on and to become better and stronger”.