After protests on Thursday 22 February 2018 resulting in the tragic deaths of 11 refugees ( 8 in Karongi town and 3 in Kiziba camp) with many others injured – including members of the police force, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is shocked and disturbed by the loss of refugee lives.
Refugees were demonstrating against food shortage, as the monthly food allowance was reduced from 7500 Rwfs per person, to 5700 Rwfs.
Humanitarian operations in Rwanda remain severely underfunded; the UNHCR’s 2018 appeal for US$98.8 million to support refugees in Rwanda is only 2 per cent funded.
This forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to reduce food rations in the refugee camps by 10 per cent in November 2017 and 25 per cent in January 2018, what has severely affected humanitarian operations in Rwanda.
However, UNHCR regrets that its continued appeals for maintaining calm and restraint were not heard last week. “This tragedy should have been avoided and the disproportionate use of force against refugees is not acceptable”.
UNHCR calls on the authorities to refrain from further use of force and to investigate the circumstances of these tragic incidents.
Last Friday, 23 February 2018, the UNHCR operation in Rwanda lowered the UNHCR flag in all UNHCR offices in Rwanda in honour of the refugees who lost their lives in Karongi District and to share the pain of the refugee families who lost their loved ones.
Today, it is reported that the situation in Kiziba camp is calm, thus UNHCR’s partners intend to resume their health, education and WASH facilities.
Over 173,000 refugees live in the six camps in Rwanda. These are fix for Congolese (Kiziba in Karongi/West, Gihembe in Gicumbi/North), Nyabiheke in Gatsibo/East, and in Southern province(Mugombwa/Gisagara and Kigeme/Nyamagabe). The sixth is Mahama for Burundians, located in Kirehe/East.