Two weeks striking, refugees in Kiziba camps decided to return home in DRC, instead of dying of food shortage. Tuesday, early morning, they packed all goods, straight to Nyamishaba, to say good bye to UNHCR.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 men, women and young people, walked for two hours from the Kiziba camp(located on 15kms from Kibuye, up in hills of Rwankuba sector) to stage a protest outside the offices of the U.N. refugee agency in the Karongi district of western Rwanda.
The whole night at the office at Nyamishaba, the cold wing of lake Kivu was too strange. This Wednesday morning, som were around fire to get over the night cold, others moving up and down the streets of Karongi. They are all waiting for a meeting with UNHCR and government officials.
The meeting took place for sure, but none of officials is reachable to provide details: Ukwezi.com have been trying to call Francois Ndayisaba, mayor of Karongi, three times in vain-he does not pick the phone. His communication officer says he was not in meeting, neither the social welfare professional who says he was under audit. Back to the ministry charged of refugees, the phone of its representative in Kiziba camp is off.
Yesterday, refugees were protected along the by police, some of them shared stones and sticks with security agents. A nurse from the camp revealed to Umuseke.com, that one refugee suffered a minor injury from the security agents shooting.
Food allowance reduced, hunger prevails
All of what these refugees are claiming is about food shortage, since allowances were reduced up to 25%. They used to getting 7500 Rfws/individual/ month, but now they get 5700. To mean 190Rfws per day. For a family of 10, an envelop of 57000Rwfs ( around 70 USD) for both ends of month. Early this year, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed for funding to reverse a 25 percent reduction in food rations and cash assistance for refugees in Rwanda.
Therefore, refugees are demanding to be resettled in another country. Otherwise, they say they will walk back to their home country, DRC.
Jean Bosco (not real name), lives in a family of six, they reached Kiziba camp in 1996. He declared to Umuseke.com, that the allowance was reduced, while price on market get higher. “We only buy sweet potatoes, nothing else, and none is fed up. The price on market is still high”.
Louis Maombi, the president of the Congolese refugees committee in Kiziba Camp, told VOA this, “We are tired of our rights being ignored, we no longer feel secure here. We need to be resettled somewhere else. We can no longer live in Rwanda”.
Congolese refugees in Rwanda were used to going and coming back from DRC, homeland. Some were going for ever, but in small numbers, but the current movement is tough: children, young people, men, women, old and disabled people are mobilized to live the camp.
Confident sources to Umuseke.com said “Some are confiscating their goods in families neighboring the camp, so that they could come back and pick them later.
According to MIDIMAR, those Congolese have rights to volunteer repatriation, but all in done in a good ways. Jean Claude Rwahama, charged of refugees, expresses, “ It’s among rights of refugees to repatriate whenever thei feel it, but they are two ways things are managed. Either spontaneous repatriation, (when one morning, a single person or family decides so), or planned repatriation. Both are possible, but we need harmony, not harming anybody.
The Kiziba refugee camp is one of the oldest congolese camps in Rwanda(after Gihembe, Nyabiheke, Kigeme and Mugombwa) and a home to about 17,000 Congolese. The camp was opened in 1996 to host Congolese who were fleeing insecurity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.