An unknown number of Congolese refugees in Kiziba Refugee Camp in western Rwanda have been killed, wounded, detained or are missing in fresh attacks by Rwandan military and police.
In late April, the Rwandan government increased its military and police presence around the camp in response to protests by refugees about deteriorating conditions in the camp, which in February turned violent.
On 1st and 2nd May, military and police personnel entered the camp, reportedly to arrest the eight members of the camp’s executive committee. Tear gas and live ammunition was used against unarmed residents, with reports that young men and women in particular were targeted.
It is unclear where the committee members now are, as communication with refugees at Kiziba has been limited since power was cut to the camp.
Congolese community members in Australia and around the world have again been deeply impacted by this ongoing violence, with many holding grave fears about the safety and future of those in the camp where they once lived.
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) condemns this violence and calls on the international community to intervene. While refugees would like the United Nations to take control of the camp to prevent further violence, at the very least there is an urgent need for independent and international monitoring of the situation.
The concerns originally raised by refugees in February related to the progressive reduction in rations since November 2017 to USD $6.70 per person per month, food shortages, a total lack of employment or means of livelihood for camp residents, the ongoing exploitation of youth, and discrimination in education and employment. Many of these concerns relate to UNHCR’s operations in Rwanda being chronically under-funded.
Paul Power, CEO, Refugee Council of Australia (02 9211 9333 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
UNHCR funding in Rwanda
UNHCR is advocating with donors to address the gaps in humanitarian funding and the urgent needs of refugees. To date, UNHCR’s 2018 appeal for US$98.8 million to support refugees in Rwanda is only 2 per cent funded. See “UNHCR calls for calm and restraint after Rwanda refugee camp protests”, UNHCR (22 Feb 2018)
Reuters, 2 May 2018: Rwanda police arrest 23 Congolese refugees after violence in camp
BBC Online, 25 April 2018: Amafoto: Hazindutse uruhagarara mu nkambi y’Abanyekongo ya Kiziba (Refugees have been destabilized this morning)
BBC Ki-Rwandan radio, 24 April 2018: Guhangana birakomeje i Kiziba. Impunzi zirifuza ko bazisubiza mu gihugu cyabo niba babangamiye leta (The tension continues to rise between the government of Rwanda and refugees as they continue to ask to be repatriated)