Calling upon the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Congolese National Commission for Refugees, the United Nations Mission in DRCongo and the Diplomatic Corps to help the new Military Governor in North Kivu to understand better the situation of refugees for appropriate solutions
On Tuesday May 11th, 2021 the Online News Agency “Actualite.cd” reported the statement of the new governor about armed refugees as saying “you are killing us, you are raping our mothers,…enough is enough” during his press briefing in Goma.
We do join those who believe and defend the international law which prohibits refugees to hold guns and be involved in subversive activities either against their country of origin or the host country. And do encourage all refugees who could be having guns to put them down and focus on the struggle for their protection in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However we all know that the situation in the country is unique and refugees may be having legitimate reasons to hold guns either for their own protection where the country has failed to protect them or for their own survival in a situation where the international community is absent as refugees do not have access to humanitarian relief aid.
It is important to continue engaging all the partners of D.R.Congo who are supporting peace and security in the eastern part to exactly pay a particular attention on all refugees in the east in their diversity.
The efforts should be deployed to engage refugees on how to work together for peace and stability rather than the blame game against them, such strategy has existed for so many years and it has not been the best. We expect the new authorities in North Kivu and all those who would support them to talk more about the protection of refugees in the province, this is where the debate should shift from.
The move of presenting refugees as criminals does not reflect the reality which may divert us from the abuses and crimes committed against these refugees over the years, may put us far from the bitter consequences and abuses all refugees are facing currently because of the few who have guns, and where not much is done to understand how refugees are affected by these guns. Do you know the price of collateral damages which refugees are paying currently in the eastern D.R.Congo?
We remain perplexed that despite all technical people and institutions present in D.R.Congo that may have a wider knowledge about refugees do opt to remain either in silence or in low profile when the lives of these refugees are at stake.
Let us remind each other that the best option to work towards the protection of each refugee and provide them with various alternatives remain key in all efforts to bring peace in the eastern DRCongo, and in this efforts we should all do what it takes to advise the government on the situation of refugees.
As part of our contribution towards peace in North Kivu, we humbly request all actors to put to the end the strategy of collective criminalization of refugees regardless of the pretext that may be advanced, and work together to put in place services and interventions which promote their protection.
We humbly recommend that being technical on ground to use all your influence to help the governor in North Kivu and the entire government to put in place approaches that favor the protection of refugees,
We humbly request you to help us and help the entire country with information about your plans and approaches towards the current situation of refugees in eastern D.R.Congo, as we believe that the solution to refugee problems in the east is one among the options for peace and stability in North Kivu.
Done in Goma, May 12th, 2021
Jackson Baguma Ntamuzinda