Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw meets refugees in Rwanda with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
British Hollywood actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw met with refugees this week in Rwanda’s Mahama and Gihembe refugee camps, on her first trip with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
Portrait of Gugu at Gihembe refugee camp, Rwanda. ; UNHCR High profile supporter Gugu Mbatha-Raw visited Rwanda with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The Burundian and Congolese refugee crises remain two of the most chronically underfunded in the world.
Kigali. Monday 13th August 2018 | British Hollywood actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw met with refugees this week in Rwanda’s Mahama and Gihembe refugee camps, on her first trip with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
Rwanda has been hosting thousands of refugees for decades, and today supports over 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers who have fled mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Government of Rwanda has generously maintained open borders and refugees in Rwanda are granted the right to work as well as being progressively included into host communities, national health and education systems.
After spending time meeting and talking to Burundian and Congolese refugees and seeing some of UNHCR’s work to support and protect them, Mbatha-Raw commented, “It’s one thing to hear about UNHCR’s work, and another to witness it first-hand. It has been eye-opening to meet the refugees who have fled unimaginable violence and suffering, and to hear their stories. I met a woman, Rehema, who had just arrived from Burundi – she was 9 months pregnant and with her two year old daughter Josephine. Her husband had been killed and she fled desperate for help with a baby about to be born. Seeing how quickly the UNHCR team and partners worked to get her settled and give her special assistance was incredibly impressive.”
”I have been able to see some amazing, positive UNHCR supported projects here in Rwanda, like MADE51 an inspiring initiative in which Burundian refugee women create beautiful products like bowls, baskets and bags for international sales.”Mbatha-Raw continued. “It’s uplifting to see these talented women getting the opportunity to earn their own money, while learning creative and business skills. But MADE 51 also creates a vital healing environment, a feeling of dignity, hope and a sense of working together to create a new community.
The group of artisan women Mbatha-Raw met are supported by ‘Indego Africa’ in Mahama camp as part of UNHCR’s MADE51 initiative, which helps to connect refugee-made artisanal products with international markets.
UNHCR has led a programme of resettlement to the United States for Congolese refugees who have fled to Rwanda. The US also provides significant financial assistance for refugee programs in Rwanda and is the largest individual donor to UNHCR. Since 2002, more than 57,000 Congolese refugees have been resettled in the United States. Commenting on this Mbatha-Raw said “Refugee resettlement is so vital for many of the vulnerable refugees I have met, who have already shown incredible resilience and strength, resettlement has the capacity to be completely life-changing. I met a young woman, Jeanette, about to be resettled in Atlanta and when I asked her what she would do there. She told me ‘I am young, I can do anything!’ But even though needs are greater than ever, less than 1% of refugees worldwide are ever resettled.”
Whilst in Kigali, Mbatha-Raw took time out to visit the Rwanda Genocide Memorial – she said. “The people of Rwanda have been truly generous in supporting refugees with an open border policy. I had the opportunity to visit the genocide museum and witness for myself what Rwanda has been through and have a better understanding of how these resilient people have turned such tragedy and horror into such a welcoming and supportive approach.”
UNHCR’s Representative to Rwanda, Ahmed Baba Fall, said, ‘The Burundian and Congolese refugee crises remain two of the most chronically underfunded in the world. High profile visits like Gugu’s help to shine a light on these forgotten crises by amplifying the voices of those who have been forced to flee to ensure they are not forgotten.
Notes to editor
UNHCR works with governments and partners on the ground in locations all over the world to support and protect refugees and help them build better futures. UNHCR’s Rwanda programme is currently 14% funded, Burundi and Congolese situations are 11% and 10% respectively.
Over the last week I’ve been in Rwanda with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. I’ve met Congolese and Burundian refugees, who have fled from two of the most forgotten crises in the world, and learnt about some amazing projects that have been set up in the camps to help build livelihoods and empower the refugees there. I’ll be posting about the trip over on @refugees – my first ever IG takeover! Please head on over and follow their profile to join our journey! . I can’t wait to share more about the vital work UNHCR is doing to support and protect refugees and asylum seekers – with a record 68.5 million people forcibly displaced around the world, there’s never been a more critical time for UNHCR’s lifesaving work. #refugees #WithRefugees #Rwanda #InstaTakeover
Phew… my UNHCR first ever #instaTakeover has come to a close… in case you missed it on @refugees here are some highlights! (A special shout out to the dynamic camp manager Paul Kenya – pic 3 – who brings light, ingenuity and positive vibes to the most challenging of situations… a true inspiration! Thank you for your wonderful work ⭐️ It’s places like these – UNHCR’s reception centre in Mahama refugee camp – where the scale of UNHCR’s operations really hits you. There are 57,000 people here who rely on us. It’s a hive of activity, with hundreds of refugees attending appointments here each day. It’s vital work, ensuring that refugees have access to healthcare, legal advice, food and shelter. I met Rehema who was 9 months pregnant and with a two year old baby – she was exhausted and overwhelmed but relieved to be safe. . 📷 by @jordi.matas. #refugees #WithRefugees #Rwanda #Mahama #UNHCR #InstaTakeover
Angelique Renaissance emits a radiance that truly humanises our perception of what it means to be a refugee. ☀️She had just arrived from the reception centre into Mahama camp. As soon as she was registered she was given a box full of essential items such as cups, plates, knives, forks, pots, stirring spoons as well as a solar light and a mattress. She was so happy to be somewhere safe and to feel protected – despite such a desperate journey her relief and joy at being somewhere safe was tangible. #humanising 📷 by @jordi.matas. #refugees #WithRefugees #Rwanda