Final statistics disclosed jointly by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR), UNHCR and UNWFP indicate that there are currently 57,641 refugees living in Rwanda. They come from different countries of the region and Congolese occupy a big number with 57, 216 - about 99.3% of the figure.
According to Antoine Ruvebana, the PS of Midimar, the figures that were published yesterday are the first exact statistics of refugees living in Rwanda over the last 17 years.
"We spent 17 years without knowing accurate figures of refugees while there were new ones coming in, others getting out, new born and naturally, deaths," Ruvebana explained. "We are now happy with this new data. It will be very helpful for us in our planning."
The set of statistics is broken down by age, gender and location. For instance, the statistics indicate that women make a large part; up to 55.7% while children aged under 17 years old make up 57.3% of the total population.
The PS also mentioned that for the first time in the country, the registration of refugees was carried out through biometrics and finger-printing of every individual so as to ensure that nobody is registered twice.
"We used to have wrong figures because there were those who could register twice, but this time, we know the exact figures, reasons of fleeing and where they come from," he explained.
To get registered twice for refugees is always intended. Given that HCR provides food to any family in refugee camp according to the number of family members, refugees try to cheat to get more "ghost" family members, to have more food.
The general registration exercise began in July 2011 and was completed in May this year, but registration has become a daily exercise since new Congolese refugees enter the country following the conflicts in eastern part of DR Congo.
The registered refugees are hosted by four camps namely Gihembe, Kiziba, Nyabiheke and Kigeme camps as well as other two transit centers. Some of the refugees also who afford it feel free to stay in Kigali.
Apart from Congolese refugees, other 361 come from Burundi, 4 from Angola, 7 from Chad, 3 from Ethiopia, 8 from Somalia, 4 Ugandans; and Kenya and Eritrea counting 1 each.
For the officials, these figures will enable all partners who work in the camps to have up-to-date and detailed information on all refugees in Rwanda.
Food shortage in camps likely
On the other side, there has been information that the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has taken the decision to reduce food rations for the refugees living in Rwanda - the information that Abdoulaye Balde, the WFP country representative, has confirmed yesterday.
Previous information was that the food would be reduced by 50% due to limited resources, but the official noted that the exact reduction would be less than the prior projection given that they used to have bigger figure of the refugees than precise one they released yesterday.
"Probably the projected food cut off wouldn't be anymore 50%. It could be 30% or 40%," Balde pointed out. "We have to go now with these official numbers and we should be able to tell you how big the cut will be."
He mentioned that the previous figure would require them Frw 2.5 billion (about US$ 4 million) by December 2012 to feed the refugees.
Balde explained that the food cut off to be effective by September will mainly be caused by limited resources; thus calling the international community for new fund contributions to allow it continue providing vital nutritional support for the refugees.
Refugees living in Rwanda rely entirely on food assistance provided by the international community through WFP, as they can't get land to grow their own food.