• Through COVAX facility, UNICEF supported the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses in Rwanda. Over 4.3 million people (one third of the population) have received two doses of vaccine in Rwanda.
• With UNICEF support, 7,959 children aged 0-6 years (51 per cent girls) were enrolled in ECD services in Mahama refugee camp in 2021.
• Over 2 million people were regularly reached with key messages on COVID-19 prevention and access to services.
• In 2021, UNICEF mobilized US$ 2.1 million, representing 35 per cent of the funding needed to address the urgent needs of women and children.
Situation in Numbers
2,000,000 children in need of humanitarian assistance (UNICEF 2021 HAC)
4,000,000 people in need (UNICEF 2021 HAC)
146,831 Refugees (UNHCR December 2020)
Funding Overview and Partnerships
UNICEF Rwanda, as part of its 2021 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC), appealed for US$ 6 million to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and to support the Government of Rwanda’s response to health crisis, including the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to risks of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) affecting the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2021, UNICEF Rwanda mobilized US$ 2.1 million, representing 35 per cent of required amount, which enabled UNICEF to deliver life-saving services to refugees – more than half of whom are women and children – as well as children and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic impacts.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
In 2021, two EVD outbreaks were declared in the Province of North Kivu, eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), neighbouring Rwanda. Since 2018, three EVD outbreaks have been declared in the same zone, the 2018-2020 EVD outbreak was second deadliest in Africa. Although Rwanda has so far managed to remain Ebola-free, the recurrence of EVD outbreaks in neighbouring DRC poses a significant health risk due to intense population movements between the two countries and a large cross-border community with shared culture and connections. Rwanda continues to maintain its Ebola preparedness plan.
Rwanda continues also to enforce preventing measures throughout the year to control the spread of COVID-19. Apart from January when the Government closed schools in the City of Kigali in response to an increase in COVID19 cases, schools remained open throughout 2021. In June-July, the country recorded the largest increase in COVID-19 cases leading to a lockdown in the city of Kigali and in 8 out of 30 districts of the country from 17 to 31 July. Since the start of the pandemic, Rwanda has conducted around 3.7 million tests and registered 1,344 deaths related to COVID-19. The country has managed to monitor confirmed cases and trace their contacts. With the support of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, more than 6.9 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine of whom 4.3 million (33 per cent of the population) are fully vaccinated1 . As the pandemic continues with emerging new variants, significant gap persists with regards to the coverage of WASH services in the refugee camps and host communities. Despite funding constraints, UNICEF continued to support the Government of Rwanda (GoR) to mitigate the secondary effects of COVID-19 on children and families, including by supporting remote learning during closure of schools, providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for community health workers (CHWs) and child protection volunteers, providing mental health and psychosocial support to children including those with disabilities, as well as by supporting the construction of handwashing facilities in schools.
In 2021, Rwanda continued to host tens of thousands of refugees as in the past two decades, mainly from Burundi and DRC. From 147,000 refugees in late 2020, the number of refugees decreased slightly during the year due to movements of return, especially among Burundian refugees. The latest statistics by UNHCR reports that 127,382 people, 49 per cent of whom children, are currently refugees in Rwanda, including 77,412 from DRC (61 per cent) and 48,234 (38.6 per cent) from Burundi. Nine refugees out of ten in Rwanda live in refugee camps and 10 per cent in urban areas. . In addition to refugees, Rwanda hosted during a short period around 8,000 people who crossed the border from DRC following the eruption of the Volcano Nyiragongo in June 2021 in the North Kivu province. UNICEF participated in the emergency response to volcano affected people in Rwanda under the coordination of the GoR and UNHCR. The GoR, World Bank and other partners conducted a post disaster needs assessment that revealed hundreds of house damages and families needing relocation. . Part of the UNHCR-UNICEF Blueprint for Joint Action for Refugee Children (Blueprint), UNICEF also continued to support the GoR response to refugees living in refugee camps and their host communities throughout 2021.