Rwanda + 2 more

Rwanda looks for funds for refugees

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By DANIEL S. NTWARI

Posted Saturday, February 13 2016 at 19:40

IN SUMMARY

  • With six official camps, Rwanda is home to Congolese and Burundian refugees totalling over 147,000, currently under the UNHCR-Rwanda programme.

  • UNHCR Rwanda programme now says that the Burundians will have to wait a little longer to have their concerns resolved.

  • UNHCR recently signed agreements with 11 international local partners for $10.8 million for the first phase of the 2016 refugee response in Rwanda.

Rwanda is calling for international support for Burundian refugees in the country, at a time when their number is increasing at a rate higher than earlier anticipated.

With six official camps, Rwanda is home to Congolese and Burundian refugees totalling over 147,000, currently under the UNHCR-Rwanda programme.

Rwanda has for the past 20 years hosted Congolese refugees who now total over 74,000. But in fewer than six months, Rwanda has seen over 73,000 Burundi asylum seekers have flooded into the country.

Rwanda had planned for at least 50,000 Burundian refugees at the offset of the Burundi conflict but says that it will not block more refugees from entering the country.

Though the number of Burundian refugees entering Rwanda has dropped from the peak of 4,000 per day in April 2015, Rwanda continues to receive between 50 and 100 Burundian refugees daily.

“We received more refugees than earlier anticipated, but there are limited resources currently and the donor community is now focusing on other refugees, for example in Syria,” said Antoine Ruvebana, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs.

The UNHCR Rwanda programme now says that the Burundians will have to wait a little longer to have their concerns resolved.

“The needs of refugees cannot be fully met but we are committed to addressing the current pressing concerns. We will seek to jointly advocate with One UN for funding for agencies with mandates in development for national health, education, livelihoods and other programmes to reduce the dependency of these refugees on humanitarian assistance,” said Azam Saber, the UNHCR country representative.

Since the recent African Union summit ailed to agree on deployment of troops to Burundi, Rwandan officials and the UNCHR are bracing for another influx of refugees.

“We hope that there won’t be another conflict that will cause more refugees to flee to Rwandan at the rate seen before” Mr Ruvebana said.

Last year, Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Seraphine Mukantabana conceded that the influx of Burundian refugees was the biggest refugee emergency that Rwanda had ever faced.

While the duration of stay in Rwanda of the Burundian refugees remains uncertain as the political dialogue at regional and continental level continues to stall, the UNHCR says that active advocacy to resolve the crisis in Burundi is ongoing.

UNHCR recently signed agreements with 11 international local partners for $10.8 million for the first phase of the 2016 refugee response in Rwanda.

Last year’s contributions made significant achievements for refugees in 2015, including the protection and multisectoral assistance of over 74,000 Congolese refugees in five camps, as well as the effective and timely response to the Burundi refugee emergency in Mahama camp.

The funding will make key contributions to the protection and assistance to Congolese refugees as well as Burundians, but the needs of the latter remain large ranging from need for permanent housing, environmental friendly energy sources (besides firewood), and more health care facilities despite intervention of UNHCR partners.

“Refugees in Rwanda are already able to access national education and health systems, thanks to the Government’s generous policy of inclusion in these areas; however this requires costly capacity building of schools and health clinics in remote areas” the UNHCR said.