2019-2020 PLANNED RESPONSE
158,550 PROJECTED REFUGEE POPULATION BY 2019
US$ 140,932,690 REQUIREMENTS FOR 2019
15 PARTNERS INVOLVED
Background and Achievements
Since 1996, Rwanda has been hosting refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As of 31 December 2018 there are nearly 75,740 active refugees from DRC in Rwanda with 74,567living in five camps (Gihembe, Kigeme, Kiziba, Mugombwa and Nyabiheke), with a further 1,173 (1.5%) residing in urban areas. In addition, there are 3,742 Congolese asylum-seekers residing in the camps, of which some are expected to be recognized as refugees during the ongoing verification exercise. Since 2015, Rwanda has also been host to over 69,423 Burundian refugees who fled insecurity and unrest due to the political situation. The vast majority live in Mahama refugee camp while 12,481 (18%) live in urban areas, mainly in Kigali and Huye. In addition there are a further 49 refugees from other countries of origin (10 African countries and one Caribbean country) living in Rwanda.
However, Rwanda’s high population density (607 individuals per square kilometre) and high dependence on agriculture place increasing pressure on land use. The refugee hosting areas’ size is 3.56 sq.km with a population density of 138,418 persons per sq.km (38,418 person per sq.km). Over 86 per cent of the population rely on firewood for cooking, leading to high rates of deforestation. Low productivity in forest and land use, coupled with unsustainable management of natural resources, have led to soil degradation, encroachment into wetlands, increased water pollution and loss of biodiversity. In addition, rapid urbanization places pressure on social infrastructure in cities. Rwanda is highly prone to disasters such as landslides, floods and lightning in north-western areas and droughts in eastern areas.
The Government of Rwanda has been generously hosting refugees for over two decades and coordinates the refugee response with UNHCR, as well as providing land to establish refugee camps and ensuring camp management and security.
The Congolese population includes those who fled in the mid-1990s, as well as more recent arrivals who fled to Rwanda during the 2012-2013 renewed hostilities in eastern DRC.
As at the end of March 2015, Rwanda began to experience an influx of refugees from Burundi fleeing election-related violence. Under the leadership and coordination of the Government of Rwanda, the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) - formerly known as the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (MIDIMAR) - established an interagency multi-sector response with partners. The Government adopted a policy of prima facie recognition for refugees fleeing from Burundi. They undergo initial registration procedures at the border and more comprehensive registration upon relocation to the camp or urban areas. As of 31 December 2018, there were 69,423 Burundian refugees registered in Rwanda. New arrivals from Burundi are received in four reception facilities. Those without the means to live independently in urban settings are transferred to Mahama Camp. Mahama is home to more than 58,552 Burundian refugees. In addition, more than 12,000 Burundian refugees live in urban areas (mainly in Kigali and Huye).
Generally, Rwanda offers a favourable protection environment for refugees. There is de facto right to work, open borders, and access to durable solutions (resettlement, local integration and return) is unhindered. Access to core protection services such as registration, legal assistance, community-based protection, support to SGBV survivors and prevention, child protection, and support to persons with specific needs, including persons with disabilities, are the key protection priorities of the inter-agency response.
All refugees remain in need of protection and services such as registration and documentation, access to territory, lifesaving assistance including food and nutrition, healthcare, shelter and non-food items, water and sanitation services, education, and targeted support for the most vulnerable and those with specific needs. Vulnerability assessments and targeting assistance programme for some sectors, such as livelihoods, shelter, CRI distribution, energy among others guide the delivery of protection and assistance services. The refugee response is based on a comprehensive approach to solutions, including socio-economic integration, highlighting that refugees can contribute to the local economy, as well as complementary pathways and resettlement.
Refugees from the DRC will continue to benefit from multi-year planning and prioritization for the strategic use of resettlement under the 2012 regional Comprehensive Solutions Strategy for Congolese refugees in a protracted situation. As the majority of Burundian refugees are recent arrivals, resettlement is only pursued for a few urgent protection cases especially vulnerable people with serious medical issues. Following the visit of the High Commissioner to Rwanda in April 2018, UNHCR has been working with the Governments of Rwanda, DRC and Burundi to reactivate existing tripartite agreements for the safe, dignified, and voluntary, self-organized return of those refugees who wish to go home. Currently, refugees in five camps receive cash assistance in lieu of food, while refugees in Mahama camp receive food assistance partially in-kind and partially in cash. It is expected that in early 2019, Mahama will benefit from cash-based interventions, provided that funds are available.
Supplementary feeding is provided to all children under five years-old and other vulnerable groups. Due to critical funding shortages, humanitarian agencies plan to profile the refugee population, with a view to eventually shifting from blanket assistance to a targeted approach, while those who are self-reliant would graduate from dependency on humanitarian aid. This applies to all caseloads in so far as the refugee has assimilated in a manner that makes him/her not dependant on humanitarian support; this may apply less to new arrivals.
Primary health services are provided by humanitarian actors in refugee camps through health centres that are also accessible to the local host communities. Refugees are referred to local health facilities for secondary and tertiary health care services. Support to urban refugees is limited due to lack of funding; as such, only children and the elderly are supported with health care services from refugee response actors. The Government of Rwanda and the RRP partners are working on enrolling urban refugees into the national health insurance system, however this will require substantial support.
Shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene activities were carried out within the refugee camps, most notably in Mahama camp, where an outstanding number of interventions were made in order to improve the infrastructure and shelters.
From the onset of the emergency phase until now, a total of 6,907 duplex semi-permanent shelters have been constructed to provide adequate shelter to refugees in Mahama. The construction of a permanent water treatment plant that serves both the refugees and host communities was completed with the capacity to supply more than 1,800 cubic metres of water. Sanitation structures were also improved. In the Congolese camps of Nyabiheke, Kigeme, Kiziba, Mugombwa and Gihembe, who have gaps in shelter and a shortage of latrines, the RRP partners have focused on advocating for funds in order to improve sanitation and hygiene conditions and structures within the camps. A total of 480 refugee housing units have been installed to provide shelter.
The capacity of local schools was expanded through the construction of classrooms, provision of school equipment and materials, and hiring and training of teachers, in order to integrate refugee students into the national education system.
Currently, 15,222 Burundian and 18,030 Congolese refugee students are integrated into the national primary and secondary schools alongside host community students. More funds are needed to build additional class rooms, hire more teachers and to expand the school feeding program, establish labs and libraries.
In 2019-2020, livelihoods interventions and further socio-economic inclusion of refugees in national systems will be prioritized in line with the commitments made by the Government of Rwanda at the Leaders’ Summit in 2016, which focused on livelihoods, documentation, access to identity and travel documents, access to the national health system and improved access to education.
On 14 February 2018, the Government of Rwanda officially adhered to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF).This being the beginning of the process, there are some challenges to address. For instance, campbased refugees are highly dependent on humanitarian funding which has been decreasing. Neither national nor sectoral development plans clearly include refugees, with the result that the refugee agenda is not addressed in local planning or in the national sector working groups (SWGs) co-chaired by Government and development partners. In terms of opportunities, the GoR Leaders’ Summit Commitments create an entry point for the inclusion of refugees across a spectrum of areas (national education system, national health insurance for urban refugees, joint GoR-UNHCR livelihoods strategy, issuance of documentation to all refugees following ongoing verification exercise, etc.).
The One UN in Rwanda played a key advisory role in the formulation of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) by participating in the sector working groups and other technical meetings during the elaboration process. A key gap that was identified from the previous two processes was the inclusion of policies and strategies aimed at including refugees in the national planning mechanisms – in order to adhere to the programming principle of Leave No One Behind. This has been addressed in the new United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP II 2018-2023) via the inclusion of baselines, targets and indicators that speak to refugee inclusion in all three of the UNDAP pillars, which are aligned the 3 pillars of the NST: Economic Transformation, Social Transformation and Transformational Governance. The UNDAP was officially endorsed by the Government of Rwanda and will be taken into consideration as part of implementation of the NST over the next five years.
The long-term vision in Rwanda envisages that by 2030 all refugees, including potential new influxes, are living safe, dignified, and productive lives across Rwanda, outside of camps (Alternative to Camp) and supported by governmentled services and programmes. Through this shift towards alternatives to camps and a self-reliance approach, refugees will be able to contribute to the economy and development of the host communities and country.