By Eugene Sibomana, UNHCR Rwanda
Kigeme, Rwanda – June 20 2019 . Today, the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) join hands with refugees hosted in Rwanda to celebrate the 2019 World Refugee Day. The international refugee day was celebrated in Kigeme refugee camp at National Level and specifically in all 6 camps hosting refugees in Rwanda.
Currently, forced displacement is a global incident. Every continent is affected. Several countries are hosting more than one million refugees, and conflicts have uprooted people across entire regions. Developing countries host more than 80% of the world’s 25.9 million refugees.
In Rwanda, the total population of concern at the end of May 2019 was 149,855 individuals. Congolese make up 51% of the total refugee population while Burundians constitute 48%. Each refugee has a very specific set of needs and faces constraints in meeting their life-saving needs.
Despite the challenges faced, and thanks to constant efforts of all partners involved in the refugee response, there is reason for optimism: there has been a significant increase in the number of school-age refugees enrolled in the national education system, efforts to provide urban-based refugees with the opportunity to enrol into the national health insurance scheme (Mutuelle de Santé) have started to bear fruit, and last but not least, the shift from the use of firewood to more sustainable, environmentally-friendly fuel options for cooking in the camps is being gradually realized.
This year on World Refugee Day, UNHCR and MINEMA are calling on everyone to take a step with refugees in order to honour the distance refugees cover each year to reach safety and the efforts they make to be resilient.
This campaign of taking a step with refugees has been launched in Rwanda to showcase the continued empathy the Government and people of Rwanda continue to extend to refugee families living in the country, some of whom have been in here for over 20 years.
As part of its longstanding commitment to the refugee cause, the Government of Rwanda has been engaged since 2018 in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework which promotes refugee inclusion through a whole-of-society approach in refugee response, by focusing on four commitments related to health, education, documentation and livelihoods.
“Taking a step literally means walking, running, or dancing to show solidarity with refugees all-over the world. In our global Step with Refugees Campaign, every step counts,” said Barbara Bentum-Williams Dotse, UNHCR Deputy Representative to Rwanda.
“It can also mean taking positive steps to welcome refugees into new communities. This could include hosting them, teaching them new skills, working in partnership with them, or inviting refugee children to play with your children. No dream is too big, no step is too small” she added.
Every year on June 20th, World Refugee Day, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Rwanda honour refugees and pay tribute to their courage and resilience.
The Minister in charge of Emergency Management Hon. Germaine KAMAYIRESE stated that the annual commemoration of the World Refuge Day is an opportunity for refugees and the host community to join together to celebrate diversity and inclusion with host communities.
“While stepping with refugees and leaving no one behind, we acknowledge that when refugees gain access to education, the labour market and legal documentation it paves a way to their self-reliance. The socio-economic inclusion of refugees is essential to the development of both refugees and host communities. The Government of Rwanda is committed to continue promoting refugee inclusion and urges partners to join hands in this journey,” said Hon. Germaine KAMAYIRESE.
The UN Refugee Agency in Rwanda has teamed up with the Government of Rwanda and diverse partners this year to mark World Refugee Day with a number of dedicated events in all refugee camps, and the urban areas of Kigali and Huye. Join us and take a #StepWithRefugees. Show your support towards refugees, all of whom should have a safe place to live, have access to basic services and be able to work to support their families.