The New Times (Kigali)

22 June 2012

Rwanda: Refugee Day Marked in Gihembe Camp

Refugees, government officials and other partners, including United Nations agencies, gathered at Gihembe refugee camp in Gicumbi District in the Northern Province to celebrate the World Refugee Day.

The camp has 12 villages with about 20,000, most of them children and women.

Rwanda, today, hosts more 60,000 refugees including those currently fleeing from eastern DRC clashes, with a few others, about 21, from Uganda, Eritrea, Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia.

Jean Nsengiyera, the refugee camp leader, said the day helps them reflect on their issues as well as preparing for their future.

"It's a great day for us as refugees since we discuss the issues concerning our daily lives and reflecting on our future," he said. "We thank the Rwandan government for protecting us."

He added that the government and United Nations High Commission for Refugees have done a lot in ensuring the welfare of Congolese despite ongoing instabilities in eastern Congo.

He, however, observed that as refugees they still have problems in the camp citing inadequate schools, insufficient water and electricity as well as health matters.

Celebrations were also held in other camps in the country including Nkamira in Western Province, Kiziba in Karongi and Nyabiheke in Eastern Province.

Jean Claude Rwahama, the Director of refugee affairs in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, pledged continued support from government and other partners.

"You're here as refugees and never lose hope, one day you will be in your country. Everything is being done to ensure the stability of your country,

"We know your problems and shall continue working closely with all the partners to ensure they are solved," Rwahama said.

The WFP, last week, appealed for the intervention of the international community to raise funds for food for the Congolese refugees in Rwanda, Uganda and those displaced in eastern Congo.

The UNHCR is currently facing a combined funding shortfall of about US$46 million over the next six months.

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