Ambassadors in Rwanda visit Mugombwa Refugee Camp following Rwanda’s Commitments at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees convened by United States President Obama

The UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR welcomes the significant new support committed by the Government of Rwanda to improve protection and solutions for refugees at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, convened by US President Barack Obama in New York.

Mugombwa Refugee Camp, Gisagara District, 22 September 2016 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has welcomed the significant new support committed today by the Government of Rwanda to improve protection and solutions for refugees at Tuesday’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, convened by US President Barack Obama in New York. Marking this significant achievement, several ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic missions in Rwanda joined UNHCR Representative Saber Azam and the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) Seraphine Mukantabana in a visit to Mugombwa Refugee Camp, which is home to nearly 9,000 Congolese refugees. The visit also followed the UN General Assembly Summit for Refugees and Migrants, which was held on Monday.

During the camp visit, eight embassies were represented, including the Ambassadors of the United Kingdom, Japan, Belgium, Netherlands, and Egypt, Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy, and representatives of the embassies of Korea and Germany. They had the opportunity to interact with refugees who fled insecurity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the 2012-2013 wave of violence. UNHCR is constructing semi-permanent shelter for refugee families in Mugombwa, and the delegation had the opportunity to support the community in laying bricks for new shelters. However, due to the constraint of space, many refugees continue to live in communal hangars, some for years. Conscious of the importance of environmental protection in refugee camps, the delegation also participated in a tree planting.

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Minister of MIDIMAR Seraphine Mukantabana, Governor of South Province, Mr. Alphonse Munyentwali and UNHCR Representative Saber Azam participating in a shelter construction in Mugombwa Refugee camp/ Photo: Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

In partnership with MIDIMAR, UNHCR leads the interagency refugee response in Rwanda and ensures protection and assistance for over 165,000 refugees living in six refugee camps, five reception/transit centers, and also those living in urban areas. UNHCR also supports the return of thousands of Rwandan refugees coming home after years living in asylum in other countries. In five camps hosting Congolese refugees, UNHCR provides services meeting all refugees’ basic needs, complemented by the Word Food Programme (WFP) which ensures refugees’ access to food and nutrition support. UNHCR this year will begin transitioning from provision of non-food items to cash-based interventions, which give refugees more independence and dignity and foster self-reliance as well as boosting the local economy.

At President Obama’s summit—to which only states making substantive commitments to improve the situation of refugees were invited—Rwanda was notable in its commitment to socio-economic inclusion of refugees. Among the pledges to refugees in Rwanda, the Government announced that it will fully integrate all refugees into the national education system, from pre-primary through secondary, and will promote self-reliance of refugees through a MIDIMAR-UNHCR Strategy on Economic Inclusion of Refugees. The joint strategy proposes concrete ways in which the positive economic contributions of refugees can be enhanced to the benefit of local economic development in refugee-hosting areas and will be launched next week during a high-level event in Kigali.Furthermore, the Government of Rwanda’s commitments to issue identification documents to all refugees and to integrate urban refugees in the national health insurance scheme will result into significant improvement of well-being and better protection of refugees in Rwanda.

Recognizing the Government’s announcement at the summit, UNHCR Representative Saber Azam congratulated Rwanda on its participation and innovative approach. “The participation and commitments of the Government of Rwanda at the Obama summit reflect a progressive approach to the situation of refugees which sets a new standard not only in Africa but globally. This commitment aligns with UNHCR’s strategy to help refugees in a protracted situation become less dependent on humanitarian aid and integrated into national development plans supported by UN development agencies.” Rwanda was among 50 states and organizations—nine of which in Africa—participating in the summit which was co-chaired by the United States President and the UN Secretary General.

UNHCR in Rwanda media contacts:

Martina Pomeroy, External Relations Officer

[email protected], +250 (0) 78-830-2769

Eugene Sibomana, Communications Associate

[email protected], +250 (0) 78-888-4713

 

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Mugombwa Refugee Camp is home to nearly 9,000 Congolese refugees – This is the market of the camp/ Photo: Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

 

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The Netherlands ambassador to Rwanda, Frédérique Maria De Man interacting with sellers in the market in Mugombwa refugee camp/ Photo: Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

 

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Due to the constraint of space, many refugees in Mugombwa camp continue to live in communal hangars, some for years, UNHCR Field staff [Boubacar Ben Diallo and Els Jellema] in front of one communal hangar/ Photo: Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

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A refugee in front of her door in a hangar, where she live with her 8 children in communal hangars for 3 years./ Photo: Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

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Conscious of the importance of environmental protection in refugee camps, the delegation also participated in a tree planting. Minister of MIDIMAR, Seraphine Mukantabana receives a tree to plant. / Photo: Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

 

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Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Rwanda Namira Negm and UNHCR Representative Saber Azam during the new semi-permanent shelter construction in Mugomba refugee camp/ Photo: Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

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Mr. Azam Saber, UNHCR representative dancing with refugees in Mugombwa camp / Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR

 

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Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Rwanda Namira Negm enjoying traditional dance with a refugee girl in Mugombwa camp / Eugene Sibomana – UNHCR