Rwanda evacuates 6,000 residents from areas threatened by heavy rains

Thursday December 19 2019

Flooding in Rwanda.

Flooding in Rwanda in 2018. The government on December 18, 2019 said it has evacuated close to 6,000 residents from high-risk zones in different parts of the country threatened by heavy rains. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

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The Rwandan government on Wednesday said it has evacuated close to 6,000 residents from high-risk zones in different parts of the country threatened by heavy rains.

Some 4,000 of them are staying with their relatives, 1,500 living in government-rented houses while about 300 others are temporarily sheltered in schools, Minister of Local Government Anastase Shyaka told a press conference.

Although the heavy rains began to cease in the third week, disaster management and mitigation measures would still be necessary, Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya said at the press conference. Floods and landslides caused by heavy rains this year have affected 22 national roads, and 42 district roads and bridges, said Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete.

Official data showed extreme weather caused more than 250 deaths in the African country last year, and, this year, it has left more than 100 people dead, some 5,000 houses damaged and more than 9,000 hectares of plantations destroyed.

However, President Paul Kagame faulted officials for poor approach in the evacuations.


“Leaders have to take responsibility for allowing citizens to live in areas vulnerable to disasters,” he said at the two-day national dialogue held in Kigali Thursday.

Kagame was weighing in on the eviction following a public uproar over the manner in which it was conducted.

“The first ones to be blamed are the leaders. Those who did it, including ministers, I do not understand why they do not feel the need to explain themselves. What is preventing them? This has consequences on many people. Why would you choose to operate this way?” he said.

The president ruled out the possibility of compensating all evictees adding that only those ones with proper documentation will receive pay outs.

Kagame further lambasted those opposed to the evictions without mentioning their name.

"Those shouting that we should not evict people from wetlands should wait for their turn. If Rwandans allow them to lead, then they will do what they want and will be responsible for the consequences," added Kagame.

In eastern Africa, at least 280 people have been killed and more than 2.8 million others affected by unusually heavy rainfall and flooding by early December, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).