Rwanda is a beautiful example of how even the most devastated country can, with enough support and the right kind of planning, make a stunning recovery and get itself on the path of progress.
On many indicators of health and welfare, as well as economic growth, Rwanda is at the top of the list in Africa and, in some cases, globally. I’ve seen the evidence for this in person, having visited and reported on Rwanda more than a year ago. It is an impressive ‘success story’ – a story that gets repeated over and over and over.
But a bizarre juxtaposition of events that took place this week illustrates, for some anyway, the dilemma that Rwanda poses for the humanitarian community.
An alleged war criminal, Bosco Ntaganda, who many believe was fomenting violence in eastern Congo at the direction of the Rwandan government this week sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Rwandan officials, who deny any connection to Ntaganda, nevertheless had to promise the U.S. ambassador they’d allow the warlord to be extradited.
Days before that, late last week, Rwanda’s Minister of Health Agnes Binagwaho was celebrated at a big global health meeting in Washington, DC, for her country’s rapid progress against poverty and injustice. Twitter went nuts with people referring to Binagwaho as “inspiring, amazing” – a veritable “rock star” for the aid and development community.
You can argue, as some did with me, that trying to link these two events together is unjustified and misleading.
Yet you could also argue they are fairly difficult to de-link — in that foreign aid is a big reason for Rwanda’s celebrated success in health and threatening to withhold foreign aid is how the US government, the Brits and others have been trying to encourage Rwanda to stop messing around in Congo. Continue reading