On his recent trip to Africa, Secretary of State Antony Blinken set out a new Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa that recognizes African nations and peoples as partners in advancing shared priorities.
Those same goals are reflected in the relationship between Rwanda and the United States. “You’ve risen from the ashes of genocide to become a global destination for innovation, for investment, for tourism,” said Secretary Blinken.
The United State and Rwanda have worked together to improve the quality of the Rwandan health care system; strengthen agricultural production and food security; expand economic opportunities; and bolster the education system, so that Rwandan youth are empowered for economic success.
In partnership with COVAX, the United States has donated more than five and a half million doses of vaccines to Rwanda, which has helped the country vaccinate nearly 70 percent of its population.
In the last six years, the United State has helped more than 2.8 million Rwandans get access to electricity for the first time.
During a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Secretary Blinken also raised issues of concern, including credible reports of Rwandan support for the M23 rebel group and the deployment of Rwandan armed forces inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC. “My message to both President [Felix] Tshisekedi and President Kagame . . .has been the same: any support or cooperation with any armed group in eastern DRC endangers local communities and regional stability,” warned Secretary Blinken. “And every country in the region must respect the territorial integrity of the others.”
The Rwandan and Congolese presidents have agreed to resume talks with armed groups in the context of the Nairobi Process, and both countries welcome the continued U.S. engagement in support of African-led mediation efforts.
Another issue of concern for the United States is advancing the protection of human rights and support for civil society in Rwanda. “We believe people in every country should be able to express their views without fear of intimidation, imprisonment, violence, or any other forms of repression,” declared Secretary Blinken. “That’s true whether they are political opponents, human rights defenders, journalists. . .or simply citizens.” He also raised the continued wrongful detention of U.S. lawful permanent resident Paul Rusesabagina with Rwandan officials.
“We have the deepest admiration for the people of Rwanda, their courage, their resilience, all that they have built,” said Secretary Blinken. “And we hope the conversations we’ve had. . .will help our partnership grow even stronger.”