Urgent Action for the protection of refugees in Nyiragongo, North Kivu/ Democratic Republic of Congo: The North Kivu Governor’s measures do threaten our current existing efforts to resurrect protection of refugees in D.R.Congo and will kill the current hopes refugees have for a better life.
With the recent ethnic violence in many parts of North Kivu/ D.R.Congo during public demonstrations organized by actors of the Civil Society calling upon the withdrawal of the UN Mission in D.R.Congo. The UN Mission is being accused of failing to restore security in many parts of the country.
The Governor of North Kivu announced through various media a series of measures in order to combat violence and manage the situation on Monday this week. The controversial measures include the suspension of all forms of demonstrations, house search in Nyiragongo in order to arrest all those who do not identify and a curfew from 6pm.
As have also indicated other actors of the Civil Society in North Kivu Province, we also get this opportunity to strongly reject all these measures which remain undemocratic and barbaric in nature and as such their implementations will be characterized by massive human rights violations.
Over the years Congolese do not have a National Identity Card and the only existing one is the national voter’s card which is not owned by so many especially those who have never voted, such measure of identification control then will be at the center of acts of torture, arbitrary arrests and detention among others.
However we also would like to bring to the attention of many that Nyiragongo Division is highly populated by people speaking Kinyarwanda language among them many are refugees who remain unidentified because there are no services for them put in place.
We estimate that 4/10 people living in Nyiragongo Division in Goma are refugees from Rwanda among them only less than 1/10 may be in possession of a refugee identification acquired somewhere else in North Kivu. Once that exercise is carried out in Nyiragongo most of these refugees will be quickly assimilated to either armed groups or to Rwandan undocumented migrants living there and may be exposed to various human rights abuses such as torture, illegal detention, killings and deportation among others.
We have so far engaged with the Congolese National Commission for Refugees (CNR) on this issue but they want all refugees to come to their offices and register but it is practically difficult because of the distance, lack of information and not knowing where the office is located. Unfortunately the CNR does not envisage to extend services to people in their communities where they are living.
We believe that the Governor of North Kivu should explore more alternatives such as specialized intelligence services which can easily handle issues connected to violence during demonstrations, and also put in place civic education programs in terms of approaches,
We therefore call upon all stakeholders in the refugee protection for the following:
We urge the Governor of North Kivu/ D.R.Congo to put on hold and eventually nullify such kind of old methods and prioritize strong engagement with people at the community levels,
We call upon the D.R.Congo central government which will provide soldiers and other security services for such operations to desist from the plan,
We call upon UNHCR North Kivu to put in place quick measures for urgent interventions in case refugees are found in problems, and engage with CNR for urgent registration of all refugees in North Kivu,
We call upon urgent emergency funding to various actors working on refugee issues in North Kivu to enable all necessary interventions as quick as possible to ensure the protection of refugees,
We call upon UNHCR and the CNR to strengthen and improve the existing partnership with various stakeholders in order to earn more trust from refugees, and put in place interventions which assure refugees for their protection,
Done in Goma, North Kivu/ D.R.Congo, Saturday April 17th, 2021
Jackson Baguma Ntamuzinda