UNHCR and the Government of Rwanda visit Gihembe camp’s rehabilitated ravine

MIDIMAR launched the project titled “Environmental protection in and around refugee camps” in September 2015 to operate in four camps

Gihembe camp – 24 February 2016: The UNHCR Representative, the Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) along with District Officials, visited Gihembe camp to celebrate the completion of rehabilitating the deadly ravine which has claimed the lives of both refugees and local residents since 2010.

MIDIMAR launched the project titled “Environmental protection in and around refugee camps” in September 2015 to operate in four camps: Gihembe, Kiziba, Nyabiheke and Mugombwa camps. The project is funded by the Fund for Environment and Climate Change (FONERWA) and is expected to run for two years over a budget of 1.5 Billion Rwandan Francs (RWF). The project includes reforestation and distribution of save-cooking stoves to the camp populations.

The ravine rehabilitation project took a period of 6 months to complete and provided job opportunities to hundreds of refugees and Rwandan nationals, which encouraged a sense of ownership and togetherness between the two communities. The stakeholders in the project, mainly MIDIMAR, FONERWA and the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) urged the two communities to protect and maintain this big investment.

The UNHCR Country Representative, Saber Azam, saluted the achievement and expressed that the project is a good example of civil-military cooperation.

UNHCR Representative, Mr. Saber Azam, greeting refugees at the town hall meeting.

UNHCR Representative, Mr. Saber Azam, greeting refugees at the town hall meeting.

The delegation took advantage of the mission to Gihembe camp to visit Kageyo Secondary School to inspect the recently constructed seven additional classrooms and four latrines, funded by UNHCR and constructed by ADRA. The expansion will help to continue integrating refugee students into national schools.

While meeting with refugees during the town hall meeting, the Minister and Representative used the opportunity to address the concerns of the Congolese asylum seekers. The refugee representative of Gihembe camp said that some people missed their names during registration and therefore cannot benefit from refugee services. The Minister promised that the issue will be solved through proper registration but cautioned that UNHCR and Immigration will be working closely to ensure nobody takes advantage of the refugee registration process.

Written by:
Chantal and Protogene
UNHCR Field Office Byumba