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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 14:06 GMT 15:06 UK
Rwandan child's long journey home
About two million Rwandans fled to neighbouring countries to escape during and after the 1994 genocide.

In the chaos that ensued many children became separated from their parents. BBC News Online tells of one girl's long search for her family.


Six-year old Genevieve Mahuro fled to DR Congo in 1994, accompanied by her mother, three sisters and two brothers.

Genevieve embracing her father as they meet again for the first time in nearly 10 years
Genevieve hugs her father for the first time in nearly 10 years
Her father stayed behind.

"As soon as we reached DR Congo some armed people fired on us and we all scattered, each looking for safety. I didn't see my family again," she said.

"I thought everybody was dead and had no hope of seeing anyone again."

After finding herself separated from her family and living in the forest for a week, Genevieve was found by a religious organisation and taken to a foster family.

Search begins

A visit by the Red Cross in Congo to the village where she was living set the search for her family in motion.

Genevieve asked the Red Cross' family tracing service to find her father.

A Red Cross worker in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Ibrahim Dukuze, used what information Genevieve could remember about her address and set off to find her father.

I can't describe how happy I am... it has been a long time and I had lost hope
Genevieve's father
Sylvere Rugemambuga
The first village he went to was not the right place, but the villagers were able to direct Ibrahim to Genevieve's father.

There Ibrahim discovered her father and the two brothers who had been with Genevieve in DR Congo, who had managed to return to Rwanda by themselves.

Nerves

On the journey to her father's house, Genevieve was quiet - both excited and apprehensive about seeing her father again for the first time in almost 10 years.

But the nerves soon went when she met her father face to face:

Genevieve with her father, brother and the Red Cross worker who reunited the family
The whereabouts of Genevieve's mothers and sisters are still unknown
"I am very happy to be home. I recognise my father but he looks older."

Her father was delighted to be reunited with his daughter.

"I can't describe how happy I am," he said. "It has been a long time and I had lost hope."

She also met her brother Alfonse.

"I thought everyone had been killed, I had no hope of seeing my sister again. I am very happy, I want to lift her up but she is too heavy, she has grown so much," he said.

But the reunion is tinged with sadness - their mother and sisters are still missing.




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