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Established in Rwanda following the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi and legally recognized in 1995, the Association des Veuves du Genocide (AVEGA) Agahozo works nationwide to create forums for healing, mutual support, and socioeconomic development for genocide widows. 

The Association of Genocide Widows, Avega-Agahozo, marked 30 years of resilience Friday, commemorating the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in an event attended by hundreds of survivors.

“During the journey of the last 30 years, we have received help in many ways, providing comfort and motivation through words of encouragement. This support has been essential as we continue our efforts in rebuilding,” said Immaculee Kayitesi, president of Avega-Agahozo, at the event in Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

She expressed gratitude to the government of Rwanda for supporting them during their suffering, showing them love and allowing them to live again.

“In the past 30 years, widows and orphans who survived the genocide have been helped in various aspects of life. The government, which took responsibility for their welfare, carried out many activities aimed at helping the widows of the genocide cope with its consequences,” Kayitesi said.

“We received a lot of help, comfort, and encouraging words that gave us the impetus to witness the journey of rebuilding.”

Kayitesi pointed out that over these years, they received treatment for injuries and diseases caused by the genocide, both within the country and abroad. She noted that rape victims, infected with HIV/AIDS and other serious diseases, were treated and provided with antiretroviral drugs free of charge.

Speaking at the event, Rwandan First Lady Jeannette Kagame said that the Genocide Against the Tutsi posed a great danger to Rwanda, and overcoming its impact on the survivors required a huge effort. “When someone needs you to listen to them and be able to get over it, it gives strength to the journey you are both committed to. Thank you for allowing us to understand and resolve to move on with resilience. Thirty years have passed, and another will come,” she said.

Jean-Damascene Bizimana, minister of national unity and civic engagement, said that members of Avega-Agahozo were involved in testifying about the crime of forced rape during the genocide. “Their testimonies led the International Criminal Court established in Rwanda to recognize this crime as part of the genocide, highlighting its severity and gravity at an international level.” Bizimana promised that the government would continue to support them to reduce the number of helpless survivors.

Established in Rwanda following the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi and legally recognized in 1995, the Association des Veuves du Genocide (AVEGA) Agahozo works nationwide to create forums for healing, mutual support, and socioeconomic development for genocide widows. Xinhua

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