Refugees in Goma DRCongo briefed about the meeting with the UNHCR Boss

Refugees in Goma DRCongo briefed about the meeting with the UNHCR Boss

Briefing to refugees about the meeting between refugee representatives and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees during his visit in Goma.

This Sunday April 25th, 2021 in the afternoon we held our usual briefing meeting which brought together various refugees residing in Goma. The briefing meeting started at 2:30 pm and was attended by more than 46 among mainly from Rwanda and Burundi. Despite bad weather still refugees were mobilized to attend the meeting and share their ideas with others.

As it has been, most of what we are doing in the first thing being done, and this is the first time that refugees were involved in what should be done and it is the first that their leaders come back to them to inform them what happened during the meeting. We want to continue making sure that refugees are involved,

We started by various issues among them our determination to advocate for refugees welfare on which refugees should play a big role, we also discussed about the politicization of refugees mainly some being used by political actors in order to win votes during elections, and others being mobilized to add the numbers of armed groups operating in the eastern part of D.R.Congo. Refugees are much concerned that they are perceived as rebels yet they not and they are wondering what they can do to bring to the world their visibility. Because of limited time, we agreed to discuss more about this and link it with refugee rights and obligations in the host country. The visibility of refugees in eastern DRCongo remains our major concerns and we do welcome ideas on how best we can ensure that such question is fully addressed.

The meeting also addressed the problem of refugees to access services from Communication Companies which refuse their refugee identifications, our efforts to interact with communication companies mainly Airtel and Orange are going on and we shall inform them about the progress. Refugees were also informed about the registration of new asylum seekers, and the verification of those who missed it in 2018 and were encouraged to report to the CNR, and those who wish should seek legal advice from our office.

Asylum seekers who have been waiting for refugee status over the years were advised to wait, because we are still looking for an organization partner which can help to advocate to various stakeholders in Kinshasa so that they can be granted refugee status. Various individual cases were raised and they were given appointments to come back to the office for proper management.

The meeting was also informed that 10 refugee representatives managed to meet the UNHCR Boss on Saturday during his mission in Goma D.R.Congo. Among those who represented refugees 3 were alleged being added by CNR on what was viewed as to spy on others about the whole interactions with the UNHCR Boss.

So far on Tuesday various activities wanting to control what refugees should say, were observed, with refugees being proposed various documents about what they should present to the UNHCR Boss, tensions and agitations were observed the whole week among refugees in Goma. In the process a letter drafted by refugees who were viewed as close to CNR was then presented in the meeting with UNHCR boss and the other drafted by refugees themselves handed to him.

Refugees were informed that promises were made on handling the issues of identity cards, the refugee status to those who have waited for long, to improve humanitarian relief aid, and to encourage resettlement to some cases. However the UNHCR boss remained unclear about other issues related to security and the whole protection process of refugees, indicating that some issues need to be addressed by the government of D.R.Congo. Again we are observing the blame, on one side the government encourages UNHCR to take her full responsibilities and the other hand UNHCR wants to engage the government.

The UNHCR boss encouraged refugees to move away from armed groups but also he did not provide alternatives for those who are in severe need of humanitarian relief aid which is at the center in order to end refugee recruitment into armed groups. Unless UNHCR responds positively to the needs of refugees and put in place effective protection response refugees will still be victims for military recruitment into armed groups.