Summary of the briefing meeting with refugees at our offices in Goma D.R.Congo on Sunday May 9th, 2021
The meeting started at 2:30 pm and was attended by 56 refugees among them 60% were women, 35% men and 5% young people among them only one young girl.
Despite the heavy rains that hit Goma, still refugees braved it and came for the meeting. The briefing meeting which aims providing refugees with accurate information is part of our activities but also helps the world to know more about the situation facing refugees in D.R.Congo.
The following issues were discussed in the meeting:
1. The current state of emergency: Much as men and young people who attended the meeting were informed about the current state of emergency, most women had no idea about it and this was an opportunity to share information and encourage refugees to collaborate with the new military authorities in the province. However great fear remains among refugees especially those who do not have refugee documents, actually half of the participants in the meeting did not refugee documents because they fall into the category of (1994 -1998) who are still excluded from the registration. The following advise were given to them: To come to our office and together we shall make a list which we shall present to CNR, to inform their local leaders where they live, and to respect all measures put in place especially avoid movements at night.
2. Briefing about the meeting with CNR: We had a meeting with the National Commission for Refugees (CNR) and number of issues were discussed which refugees were informed about especially on how to start the refugee status determination process. CNR continues to receive refugees but one category is still left out especially those from the period of 1994-1998 and yet are the majority of refugees in North Kivu, according to CNR these should wait for the new phase of registration which is likely to happen towards the end of this year 2021 but refugees are living in fear of being arrested or being considered as “rebel” in case they are found with no identification. We need more advocacy to engage both UNHCR and the CNR to understand the urgency of this and put in place alternatives which refugees can use as per now. We were also informed that refugees in North Kivu Province are estimated to 100,000 who are currently registered by the CNR, and we were also informed that about 170,000 refugees have been repatriated since 2010. We believe these statistics are below the reality, we estimate refugees in North Kivu to be around 700,000 and we are calling upon the authorities both UNHCR and CNR to ensure that each refugee is registered. In the meeting yesterday refugees showed concerns about these repatriations which are considered forced, we also call upon UNHCR, CNR and the UN Mission in D.R.Congo to stop these forced repatriations. Our reactions about this meeting with CNR will be available in our website (www.globalrefugeeleaders.org) during this week.
3. Refugees also pointed out various social problems they are confronted with mainly (food, shelter, medical treatment, and education). Among those who attended some want UNHCR and CNR to put in place a “settlement” for them where they can also access humanitarian relief aid. However both UNHCR and CNR are still opposed to this demand much as there are no clear reasons provided apart from the general view of self-reliance, and refugees living on their own. We continue calling upon UNHCR and CNR to fully take charge and fully be in control of the situation of refugees. We advised refugees to go to the health centers which are in partnership with UNHCR once they are sick, and discourage refugees to die from their homes. The meeting was also informed that refugees who were detained in the health centers because of their failure to pay the money after being treated were released through the interventions from UNHCR and her partners.
4. Issues of discrimination and conflicts with the local population were raised and refugees were advised to be good neighbors and avoid being problematic with the neighbors. We are still waiting for the response from Airtel and Orange Communication Companies on the issues of refugee documents, and we intend to engage with other authorities.
5. The meeting was also dominated by various questions on voluntary repatriation and local integration as refugees want to know the whole content. We explained more about voluntary repatriation but we have not yet come up with the position on local integration, however we informed refugees that CNR is willing to receive those who want to be locally integrated.
6. The formation of the refugee committee which will work on the world refugee day was postponed to next Sunday in the meeting, and then refugees split in their groups (women, men and the youth). Women are already involved in preparations of traditional and cultural activities, the youth will meet at the office on Saturday and men will be in consultations on Sunday.
The meeting ended at 5:40 pm
GRLF/ Humanite Plus Team