Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.

Michael Creed


16 Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on whether it is appropriate for the Government to continue providing direct financial assistance to the Rwandan Government in view of the alleged human rights atrocities. [22037/98]

Rwanda, one of the poorest countries in Africa, is struggling to recover from the genocide of 800,000 people and the return of 1.4 million refugees. Most of the assistance provided by the Irish Government goes towards rehabilitation programmes which aim to meet basic humanitarian needs in the areas of shelter, health and food security. In addition, the rebuilding of civil society and of the system of justice are crucial if the cycle of violence and impunity is to be broken. Ireland supports a number of projects which aim to contribute to the establishment of conditions leading to a peaceful, just and stable society. In providing rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance to Rwanda, we are also seeking to prevent even greater instability in the country itself and in the Great Lakes region as a whole.

Funding is channelled through Irish NGOs, international agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN Development Programme. Some support has been given to the Government for specific projects to assist institution building and human resource capacity. This includes training health care workers and providing training, including human rights training, for the communal police. Ireland has been able to use the channel of a UNDP Trust Fund in Rwanda, as a way to ensure complementarity with other donors and to increase the effectiveness of assistance through joint funding of particular projects.
The centrality of human rights is also reflected in the objectives and priorities of the European Union in its relations with Rwanda as reflected in its relevant Common Position which was adopted with Ireland's support by the General Affairs Council on 30 March, namely to encourage, stimulate and support the process of recovery from genocide; promotion of national reconciliation, reconstruction and development and transition to democracy; and protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
These issues were raised with the Rwandan authorities during the EU Ministerial Troika to that country in June. Along with our European partners we have unequivocally condemned the killings of innocent civilians and refugees by all sides to the conflict in Rwanda and called for the full investigation of such incidents.
The Government remains firmly of the view that such objective human rights safeguards, with effective investigative and judicial follow-up, are essential if lasting stability and inclusive democratic government are to be achieved in Rwanda.
In conclusion, I can assure the Deputy that full observance of human rights and the rule of law will continue to be a core objective of the Government's policy in relation to Rwanda. Along with our EU partners and through the continued good offices of the EU Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mr. Aldo Ajello, we will continue to support, as appropriate, the efforts of the Government of Rwanda to achieve these goals.