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Country Reports
RWANDA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: Rwanda ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 13 June 2000. There have been allegations of Rwandan use of mines in the fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially in the June 2000 battle for Kisangani. Rwanda denies any use. From 1995 to February 2000, 16,983 mines and UXO were cleared in Rwanda, and about 5,000 hectares of land. Three prefectures that were the most affected are now 90% cleared. In April 2000, the National Demining Office reported that clearance operations had been postponed since December 1999 due to lack of explosives. The U.S. military completed its demining training program in February 2000. In 1999 and 2000, there have been twelve mine casualties.

Mine Ban Policy

Rwanda signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 13 June 2000. There is not believed to be any domestic implementation legislation in place in Rwanda. Rwanda’s Article 7 transparency measures report will be due by 22 July 2001.

Rwanda was absent during the vote on UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B supporting the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1999. It was also absent from the vote on a similar resolution in 1998 but voted in support of pro-ban resolutions in 1996 and 1997.

Rwanda participated in the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo in May 1999 in a delegation led by Col. Emmanuel Bem Habyarimana of the Ministry of Defense. In a statement to the plenary, Col. Habyarimana stated that “mines continue to destroy the lives of innocent people. This is the reason that my country is prepared to fight with much vigor against the existence of arms.”[1] He described the National Demining Office (NDO) created in Rwanda, and said that “there over 800,000 mines throughout Rwanda, in the country side, pastures, forests, valleys. The [NDO] has destroyed 270,000 mines.”[2] However, a recent report from the National Demining Office stated that there were about 50,000 mines in the country, and 16,983 mines had been destroyed.[3]

Rwanda has not participated in any of the ban treaty intersessional Standing Committee of Experts meetings. Rwanda is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, and is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Rwanda is not believed to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel mines. The UN records thirty-nine types of mines being found in Rwanda from Belgium, China, former Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Italy, Pakistan, former Soviet Union, and the U.S. Italian and former Soviet mines are the most common.[4] Rwanda has imported antipersonnel mines. Details on the size and composition of Rwanda’s current stockpile of AP mines are not available.


For the past two years, Rwandan military forces have been supporting the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD, Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie) opposition forces in their fight against the government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).[5] There have been allegations of use of mines by Rwandan forces in the DRC, particularly in June 2000 when Rwanda and Uganda, former allies in supporting Kabila, engaged in conflict.

In early June 2000, a fierce battle between Rwandan and Ugandan armies for control of the northern DRC city of Kisangani left more than 500 people dead, most of them civilians.[6] Observers have reported use of mines in that battle. (See Landmine Monitor report on DRC). A UN official told Landmine Monitor that Uganda and Rwanda had both used mines in the fighting over Kisangani.[7]

Ugandan Army spokesman Phinehas Katirima accused the Rwandan army of planting landmines to blow up the Tchopo bridge in Kisangani, “The fact that the wire connected to the battery that was to be used to detonate the mines ended up in the Rwandan army defences is a clear indication of the Rwandan motives.... Our positions were north of the bridge and the wires connecting the landmines to the batteries are south of the bridge where the Rwandans were. It is a shame to attempt to blow up a bridge.”[8] From this description, it is not clear if the devices were in fact landmines, or whether they were antipersonnel or antivehicle mines, or whether they were victim-activated or command-detonated mines. Antivehicle and command-detonated mines are permissible under the Mine Ban Treaty.

The UN Observer Mission in Congo (MONUC) stopped civilians from using the bridge and sent for demining experts from Kinshasa.[9] Two days later, the bridge was reopened after it was reported cleared in “a successful demining operation carried out by RCD” according to a humanitarian source.[10] Four days later a rebel RCD spokesman, Kin-Kiey Mulumba, told media, “Our main troops are going to leave the center of the city.... We shall leave behind the de-mining teams and some force at the two airports.”[11] This raises the question of what the demining teams are staying to remove.

Outside of Kisangani, in August 1999 local people in the Bukavu area from Ngando village told Landmine Monitor that they believed Rwandan soldiers planted a mine on a path frequently used by Interahamwe militiamen.[12] A cow detonated the landmine.

Landmine Monitor Report 1999 noted that Namibia and Zimbabwe had accused both Rwanda and Uganda of use of mines in the DRC. At that time Rwanda and Uganda were allies in the conflict.[13]

Rwandan military officials have repeatedly denied allegations that Rwanda used AP mines during the operation in the DRC. One official told Landmine Monitor that Rwandan troops do not lay mines in the DRC and that Rwanda is committed to the 8 April 2000 Lusaka Agreement.[14] Article 2 of the Lusaka Agreement states that the parties involved in the DRC war shall not place any additional minefields, barriers, or protective obstacles. It also states that “provision of all data on minefields by all parties (to include detailed maps of the minefields) is one of the conditions required to enable staff planning for disengagement.”[15]

Prior to the Lusaka Agreement, a September 1999 cease-fire agreement for the DRC was signed by a Joint Military Commission (JMC), including Rwanda, which formally prohibits the use of AP mines. The agreement says in part, “Each party to the agreement shall give instructions to its forces [and to forces] it supports or which are on the territory under its control to prohibit all kind of reinforcement of troops, the supply of arms, ammunitions and other war materials as well as the laying of mines.”[16] The agreement further states that, “Each party to the agreement shall communicate to the JMC or if not possible, by confidential mail delivered by hand to the OAU Secretariat, in a period of time not exceeding 10 days from 12 October 1999, maps of the minefields which its force have deployed as well as forms, along with documented and scaled maps, on the positions occupied by their forces or by any other force or armed group on the Congolese territory under its control.”[17]

It appears likely the rebel RCD forces supported by Rwanda have used antipersonnel mines. The ICBL has expressed concern that a Mine Ban Treaty State Party may be violating the treaty by virtue of participating in a joint military operation with another armed force that uses antipersonnel mines in that operation. Under Article 1 of the Mine Ban Treaty, a State Party may not “under any circumstance...assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity that is prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.”

Rwanda should make clear the nature of its support for other armed forces that may be using antipersonnel mines, and make clear its views with regard to the legality under the Mine Ban Treaty of its joint military operations with those forces. Rwanda should state categorically that it will not participate in joint operations with any force that uses antipersonnel mines.

Rebel Use

Rebels and former soldiers who fled to the DRC (Zaire) in 1994 used landmines in Rwanda during the 1994 war and since.[18] Isolated incidents in the northwestern region in the Rwerere, Rubavo, and Nyamyumba communes were reported in 1996 and 1997, but Landmine Monitor is not aware of reports in 1999 and 2000.

Landmine Problem

Prior to 1990, there was no landmine problem in Rwanda. The current problem is the result of conflict over the past decade between the majority Hutu ethnic group and the minority Tutsi. The most mine-affected areas are in the northeast (Umutara and Kigali), in the city of Kigali and in the northwest (Ruhengeri and Gisenyi). A recent report from the National Demining Office (NDO) stated that there were about 50,000 mines in the country.[19]

The NDO keeps a database and a country map on mined areas and updates this database every month, including the casualty incidences. The number of mines and UXO are recorded and the figure made known to the public through the awareness campaign.

Mine Action Funding

U.S. demining assistance to Rwanda began in 1994 with extensive military support to establish the NDO, mine awareness training, a computer-based data collection and records management system, and a train-the-trainer program.[20] The U.S. has provided about $14 million to the Rwandan demining effort since 1994, mostly in the form of equipment, training, and supplies. The U.S. military completed its demining training program in February 2000. The planned allocation of U.S. funds in Fiscal Year 2000 is $253,000, down from $750,000 in FY 1999.[21]

In the past UNHCR and UNICEF funded a portion of the mine awareness program, but there was no funding from these bodies in 1999 or 2000. A one-year funded UNICEF program was handed over to the NDO. The NDO has started lobbying UN agencies to get them involved in mine action activities.[22]

Coordination and Planning

Humanitarian mine action is carried out by the National Demining Organization, established in 1995. The NDO works under the Ministry of Defense and is supported by the government. While it draws policies from the government, it operates as an independent program and sets its own priorities. The NDO is the coordinating body of mine action nationwide, and is the only recognized body dealing with mine clearance and training. It works in close collaboration with the local administration, the Ministry of Defense and some NGOs. NDO is responsible for the implementation of plans decided by the government in consultation with local administration.

Mine Clearance

Between September 1995 and February 2000, 16,983 mines and UXO were cleared in Rwanda.[23] It is estimated that 5,000 hectares of mainly arable land have been cleared.[24] The government provides human resources to the NDO with allowances and salaries to 110 soldiers deployed in humanitarian mine action operations. Manual detectors and dogs are used in the demining operations.

Since December 1999, mine clearance has been limited because the NDO supply of explosives for demining ran out. In April 2000, the NDO reported that because of the lack of explosives, clearance operations have been postponed since December last year. Since then, the NDO was devoting its efforts “to carry out survey, mine awareness, marking areas and collecting reports from population.”[25] Nevertheless, the NDO reported that 482 mines and UXO were cleared in January 2000 and 199 mines and UXO were cleared in February 2000.[26]

Most mine clearance has taken place in Mutara, Byumba and Kigali prefectures. Several trading centers such as Muvumba have been demined for re-occupation by the local population. Power lines have been cleared. Large resettlement areas are being cleared. For example, areas are being cleared for the resettlement of 1,500 people in Kibungo and 600,000 people in Ruhengeri. The main roads from Gatuna to Kigali, from Gitarama to Kibuye, from Kigali to Gisenyi, and secondary roads have all been cleared. Several tea plantations in northeast have been cleared. Three prefectures that were the most affected--Kigali town, Kigali rural and Umutara--are now 90% cleared. People are farming and grazing their cattle without fear. Many new villages have been built.

Mine clearance in the northwestern part of the country has been delayed by insecurity in the region and also by limited financial resources. Planning has been underway to resume mine clearance operations in the northwest region of the country, specifically in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures. Demining here is seen as urgent because more than 600,000 people have to be resettled in Ruhengeri, and because this region has always been the breadbasket of the rest of the country.[27]

Since 1995, the U.S. military has assisted in training 115 Rwandan deminers. The U.S. military completed its demining training program in February 2000. The training program carried out by the U.S. included surveying, mapping and marking, demining procedures, dog handlers, and mine awareness. One of the bigger problems faced by deminers is that of they lack appropriate means to clear vegetation (bushes) and the government has asked the U.S. to provide vegetation cutters. Two deminers were injured in the course of their work. One stepped on a TS-50 antipersonnel mine in 1996 in Tumba and the other stepped on a TS-50 antipersonnel mine in 1997 in Jali.

Mine Awareness

Mine awareness is carried out through the development and distribution of messages through radio programs, posters, T-shirts, and brochures. Once the product has been developed, it is often pre-tested, mainly with pupils and adults in market places, by way of a questionnaire and face-to-face interviews to ascertain the veracity of the messages. About sixty people have been trained as mine awareness educators. NDO has signed a contract with ORINFOR (Rwanda’s Information Office) worth $103,000 for mine awareness campaign advertisement per year.[28] At the community level locals are encouraged to report to NDO when they see “strange objects.”

The strategy is to combine demining operations with community mine awareness education campaigns to facilitate the detection of mines and sensitize communities about the dangers of these devices. The main targets of the mine awareness education programs are women and children because most domestic chores in Rwanda, such as collecting of fuel wood, fetching water and farming, are still in the domain of women and children.

Mine causalities have decreased by 80% in areas where mine awareness teams have been effective.[29] The significant reduction is the result of an aggressive awareness program that was conducted with the cooperation of the affected community and mine clearance programs.

Landmine Victims

In 1999 and 2000, there have been twelve mine casualties, eleven men and one woman. For the period 1990 to 1998, the NDO has recorded 550 mine fatalities.[30] For the same period, the Central Hospital in Kigali registered 1,759 victims who have received amputations and 692 who have received prosthetic devices.[31] Based on analysis of casualty data, it is estimated that there are 2.345 mine victims per 10,000 people in Rwanda.

Survivor Assistance

Victim assistance is not a priority of the NDO but is carried out by NGOs including Mulindi Japan One Love Project and Handicap International.

Mulindi Japan One Love project is comprised of five Rwandans and four Japanese. Its objective is to help disabled people by providing prostheses and promoting their socio-economic integration. The Project began in 1996. It was initially funded by $194,958 and was later sponsored with a government of Rwanda donation of $36,206 while another local NGO provided $2,785. In addition to this financial assistance, a partnership with a Japanese Group was established and raw materials provided for the manufacture of orthopedic equipment. Disabled people are involved in the sale and distribution of the produced equipment. The Ministry of Social Affairs identifies disabled people and sends them to get the appliances free of charge. The Demobilization Service also identifies and sends disabled and demobilized soldiers to the project. The National Security Fund organizes support for those injured in the course of their work but must pay for this service. Private individuals are required to pay a certain fee. The fund for genocide survivors has its own budget and takes care of the genocide survivors.

Prosthesis Services Provided by One Love Project[32]

Served Waiting list
Served Waiting list
Ministry of Social Affairs
Demobilized soldiers
Funds for genocide survivors
26 26
41 34
16 -
3 -
14 14
- -
19 1
2 -

[33] About 90 percent of the prosthesis provided by Handicap International go to landmine victims.

Prosthesis Services Provided by Handicap International Since 1994[34]

Prosthesis Produced
Prosthesis Repaired

[1] Statement by Colonel Bem Habyalimana at the First Meeting of States Parties, Maputo, May 1999. Unofficial translation by Landmine Monitor editing team.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Rwanda National Demining Office, Progress Report, 2 April 2000.
[4] For the full list, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 162.
[5] See country report on Democratic Republic of Congo.
[6] “Congolese Rebels Agree to Pullout From Battered City,” Associated Press (Igali, Rwanda), 26 June 2000.
[7] Telephone interview with UN official Kisangani, 28 July 2000.
[8] Emmy Allio, “Congo Kinshasa Tchopo Bridge Mined,” New Vision (Daily Kampala newspaper), 19 June 2000.
[9] Ibid.
[10] “DRC: Kisangani’s main bridge reopens,” IRIN-CEA Update 951 for the Great Lakes, 22 June 2000.
[11] “Congolese Rebels Agree to Pullout From Battered City,” Associated Press, (Igali, Rwanda), 25 June 2000.
[12] Interview with Bali Munenwa, Chibanda/Kaziba, 27 December 1999.
[13] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp.194-195.
[14] Interview with Col. Karenzi Karake, Kigali, 12 April 2000.
[15] Plan for the Disengagement and Redeployment of Forces in Democratic Republic of Congo, (Lusaka Agreement), signed on 8 April 2000.
[16] Agreement for a Ceasefire in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joint Military Commission Decisions of the Sessions, part 2.6, September 1999.
[17] Ibid.
[18] See, Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 163; see also, Human Rights Watch, “Rwanda,” Human Rights Watch World Report 1997, p. 46.
[19] Rwanda National Demining Office, Progress Report, 2 April 2000.
[20] U.S. Department of State, “Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations, FY 2001 – Bureau of African Affairs,” March 15, 2000; U.S. Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” April 1999, p. 14.
[21] Ibid., U.S. Department of State, “FY 00 NADR Project Status,” p. 3.
[22] Interview with Susan Page, Political Officer, U.S. Embassy, Kigali, 27 April 2000.
[23] Rwanda National Demining Office, Progress Report, 2 April 2000.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid.
[31] The data from the Kigali Central Hospital includes amputations and prosthetic fittings for all causes, Service de Readaption Recueillies Aupres de Mukakabera M. Claire.
[32] One Love Project, 1999 Annual Report.
[33] Interview with Deo Butera, Director, Handicap International, Kigali, February 2000.
[34] Handicap International, 1999 Annual Report.