UNHCR deplores refugee death in Kiziba camp, appeals to avoid further confrontation

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, deplores the death of one refugee in Kiziba camp. UNHCR calls upon refugees for calm and restraint.  UNHCR urges Rwandan authorities to continue working professionally to avoid tensions that could lead to further loss of life.

Rwanda National Police patrols are reportedly facing provocations by refugees.

During confrontations, one refugee has been injured and died upon arrival at Kibuye Hospital. The circumstances surrounding the incident are to be clarified. “UNHCR is deeply saddened and concerned by this tragedy and share its empathy with the family and other members of the refugee community” says Ahmed Baba Fall, UNHCR’s Country Representative. “UNHCR urged at several occasions the refugees to respect local laws and express grievances through dialogue, while calling on authorities to handle the situation with calm and restraint” he said.

On the morning of Friday 20 April, UNHCR was made aware of the deployment of a large number of Police officers in and around Kiziba camp.

The Ministry in charge of Refugee Affairs, MIDIMAR, informed that “the increase of police officers is also due to the rise of tensions in the camp and they are there to ensure security and safety of refugees, staff and host communities”. In addition MIDIMAR reiterated that “there is no operation and that the Government of Rwanda will continue to promote the rule of law, law enforcement and justice for all.”

Some refugees have also indicated their desire to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), out of desperation. “Refugees have the right to return to their country whenever they wish. But we urge refugees to make an informed decision and not to listen to misinformation or rumours,” added UNHCR’s Country Representative.

On Monday 30 April, UNHCR deplored increased violence in the camp opposing the police forces and organized groups of youth. Tear gas was used by the Police to disperse the groups of youth after they started stoning the armed forces. The UN Refugee Agency is also sadly reporting that a child who was part of the mass of protestors was accidentally injured by stones. He was immediately evacuated and brought to the hospital in Kibuye.

UNHCR recognizes that the RNP has the right to patrol on all the territory of Rwanda and is calling upon the refugees to stay calm.

These waves of commotions hinder access to the camp, thus UNHCR and its partners cannot provide support and assistance to the refugees in Kiziba. At several occasions, due to increased violence in the camp, humanitarian staff had to be evacuated for their safety.

On Tuesday 1 May, police patrols encountered refugee youths in Kiziba camp trying to block them from proceeding into the centre of the camp. Confrontations resulted in 14 refugees injured – who have been taken to hospitals – and four police officers. In addition, 23 refugees were arrested.

UNHCR is advocating with donors to address the gaps in humanitarian funding and urgent needs of refugees. To date, UNHCR’s 2018 appeal for USD 98.8 million to support refugees in Rwanda is only is 13 per cent funded.

Rwanda’s Kiziba refugee camps is located in the Karongi District, in Western Rwanda and hosts  17,120 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, around 77 per cent of which are women and children.

Rwanda hosts 177,574 refugees in six camps, including Kiziba, where Congolese refugees have lived for 22 years.

 

For more information on this topic, please contact: 

  • In Kigali, Daniela Ionita, External Relations Officer, [email protected] , +250 78 831 0125