22 June 2008

Rwanda: 93 Percent of Refugees Are Congolese

Nyarugenge — Rwanda is home to a total of 55,645 refugees, out of whom 52,083 are Congolese, while 2,831 (5.5 percent) are Burundians, new UNHCR statistics have shown. UNHCR Representative to Rwanda, Annette R. Nyekan, told The New Times last week that other refugees come from either Kenya or Somalia. She was speaking on the occasion to mark World Refugee Day at 'Ecole Sainte Famille' in Kigali.

The event, organised by UNHCR in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government Minaloc, was held under the theme: 'Solidarity for Self-Sufficiency: Helping Myself Helps Others'.

The event was marked by speeches, music and poetry readings from refugees and saw participants take part in community work (Umuganda).

Nyekan said there were more female refugees in the country, making up 30,635 (55%). Children aged between 0 and 4 years are 12,233 or 20.85% of the total refugees, while those between 5-11 years are 2,914 (23.24%), with those between 12-17 years old estimated to be 10,044 (18.34%).

She said that out of the current 703 asylum seekers, 574 are from the DRC and 119 from Burundi, and 10 from several other countries. Of the 2,547 urban refugees, 1756 are from the DRC, while 763 are from Burundi. The remaining 28 are from other countries.

Comparing Rwanda with other countries in terms of refugee treatment, Nyekan said it was doing well. "Rwanda allows refugees to go to boarding schools, which is not the case in most other countries. Education opportunities are good," she explained.

Nyekan also noted that refugees from DRC and others from neighbouring countries are easily assimilated. She said they had a lot in common, citing language and culture because many Rwandans were at one time refugees in the countries.

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