13 August 2012

Rwanda: UN Commends Rwandan Hospitality to Congolese Refugees

Following a visit to Kigeme camp which hosts around 12,000 Congolese refugees, Valerie Amos, the United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said that the Rwandan effort to help the UN to meet the refugees' needs is commendable. "The Government of Rwanda has played a crucial role in the relief effort, providing a site where families, children separated from their parents, the elderly and other vulnerable persons have sought safety. However, more resources are needed to scale up the response," Amos said.

The Rwandan Government and the United Nations Refugee Agency are in charge of the coordination of activities in the camp, with UN agencies and their non-governmental partners providing basic services such as water, sanitation, health and food.

Amos said refugees benefited of potable water, though she added it is not yet enough. Diseases are handled in the camp's health post, and when more intense care is needed, Kigeme hospital is in charge. For instance, the camp's officials registered 99 cases of diarrhea and other health concerns that were treated at the hospital. Given that the cases are related to hygiene, Amos said they are still calling upon UN humanitarian agencies to partner in finding a budget for more water taps and hand wash facilities in the camp.

Another issue the UNHCR and the government of Rwanda are still working on is related to education, where more than 4500 refugees of school age who didn't have any access to education in the DRC are to attend catch-up classes alongside a possible program of literacy classes for adults and vocational trainings to the youth. Another 3500 children are also expecting to have places in two local schools located at one kilometer of the camp.

However, facilities, like latrines and other hygiene basic kits, school material, etc. are still needed to allow implementation of these programs, Amos pointed out.

All in all, Amos said, there is goodwill on both the UN's and the government's side, but there is still a need to increase funds for food, water and sanitation, school facilities health facilities and good shelter for the Congolese refugees in Rwanda.

During her 2-day visit to Rwanda, the under-secretary-general met Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habururemyi and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo to discuss these issues as well as the situation in the eastern DRC. "The affected Congolese, in Rwanda and the DRC, want an end to the violence and a chance to return home. It is vital that all partners in the region contribute to solve this crisis which is affecting the region," Amos said.

By August 3, the UNHCR had registered 19,715 Congolese refugees arrived at Nkamira transit center in Rubavu district center with 11,424 of them transferred at Kigeme refugee camp in southern province. With the transfer to Kigeme to resume next week, the camp is being expanded from 22 hectares to 28 hectares.

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