Today we would like you to meet our everyday heroes: refugees and Rwandans who are doing their bit together on the pandemic’s front lines.
Today the UN Refugee Agency in Rwanda joins the world to celebrate the World Refugee Day; a day to honour the resilience and courage of the millions of refugees and asylum seekers forced to flee their countries.
Presently, around the world, the number of people displaced from their homes has increased to almost 80 million. UNHCR estimates that 1 out of every 100 people in the world has fled their homes. These are real people whose lives have been torn apart, leaving their homes, family, jobs and schools behind. Even if the number of forcibly displaced people was higher than it had ever been in history, the Government of Rwanda and Rwandans have demonstrated generosity in providing asylum to 150,000 refugees, some for more than two decades.
To mark the World Refugee Day, Mr. Ahmed Baba Fall, the UNHCR Representative in Rwanda expressed thanks to the generosity and humanitarian commitment of the Government of Rwanda and the donor community for their support to refugees.
“The response from the Government of Rwanda and donors to the refugee situation in Rwanda has been truly extraordinary – it shows that we are stronger when we work together,” he said.
Today the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional threat to refugees and displaced people, who are among the most vulnerable. But then again, UNHCR salutes the efforts demonstrated by the Government of Rwanda to include refugees in all COVID-19 prevention and response efforts.
“In the context of the global compact, and in line with international solidarity and responsibility sharing, Rwanda has invested in integrating refugees into services within national systems, such as the Community Health Insurance Scheme. Refugees are also able to participate in local economies in order to increase their level of self-reliance.
We mark today’s World Refugee Day in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Rwanda is working with other stakeholders to ensure refugees are protected against the pandemic, through appropriate preventive and recovery measures,” said Hon. Kayisire Marie Solange, Minister in charge of Emergency Management
This year’s World Refugee Day is marked in an environment of dramatic social change. Years ago, this day was marked by a variety of events in all refugee camps and other locations in Rwanda. These activities involved refugees, government officials, host communities, children, youth and the general public.
Today it is not possible to have large gatherings. Thus, we’re celebrating the World Refugee Day online, through social media [website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok]. UNHCR Rwanda organized a drawing contest for refugee youth and children with main focus on COVID-19 prevention in refugee camps and urban settings, creating a platform to reflect refugees’ role in fighting COVID-19. Their stories have been published on our social media account.
We would like you to meet our everyday heroes: refugees and Rwandans who are doing their bit together on the pandemic’s front lines. Their stories are on our UNHCR Rwanda World Refugee Day page: www.unhcr.org/rw/world-refugee-day and on our social media account.
“Everyone’s action counts in the global fight against COVID-19”
During these challenging times, ordinary people have become heroes by stepping up and leaning in to help. Despite living in extremely vulnerable conditions, refugees are contributing to the frontlines of the pandemic.
Refugees are volunteering as health workers in Nyabiheke refugee camp, making soap in Kigali and Kigeme camp, sewing masks and protective gear in Mahama and Gihembe refugee camps, engaging in livelihood activities in Mugombwa refugee camp and in so many other locations in Rwanda. Refugees are contributing time to help the needy everywhere.
“In the time of COVID-19, we have witnessed how everyone can make a difference and how every action counts,” said Mr. Ahmed.
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