Urgent Action: Angello a Rwandan Refugee Leader kidnapped in Goma during the night of May 26th, 2021
As he was at his home, in Ndosho, Karisimbi Goma RDCongo, Angello was kidnapped by unknown armed people and taken to an unknown destination up to now, we do not know his whereabouts as communicated to us by his wife since morning.
Angello is one among the active voices of refugees in Goma, DRCongo, he leads the SOCIRWA (which is the Rwandan Civil Society in DRCongo). He has been hiding for a long time because of security reasons. Our efforts to seek for interventions since morning have been futile because either no one is in the office or everyone is busy on other things during this difficult moment in Goma, DRCongo.
The timing was not a hazard, this happens when globally more attention is put on the visit of French President in Rwanda and at the same time during this period when Goma RDCongo is affected by Nyiragongo Volcano which has forced thousands of people to run away from their homes. Let us mention that since yesterday night the borders between DRCongo and Rwanda were opened in order to let people in and out freely, officially those running away from the volcano.
Basing on what Angello used to tell us about people and groups of people he may have problems with, we think that the alleged perpetrators of his missing may be either Rwanda Security Services or other Rwandan Armed Groups based in DRCongo who are totally against efforts towards the protection of Rwandan refugees and who believe that Angello betrayed their struggle.
Angello has no political connections, he is just an actor of the Civil Society engaged in the protection of refugees, peace and good governance in the region and advocating for democracy in his country Rwanda. Angello has shared his ideas with various researchers, experts and other people who wish to know what he thinks about Rwanda.
In order to make the matter worse, currently Rwanda seems to use Hutus as intelligence services in order to track their fellow Hutus and this makes the security mechanism more difficult.
Efforts to seek protection
Angello had deployed efforts to engage with UNHCR Officers since April 2021 on his security and the security of other vocal refugees but despite being given appointments he has never seen the UNHCR officers in charge of protection. It is important to note that UNHCR Goma is very aware of all the security risks faced by Angello but not much was done to ensure he is in a safe place, yet UNHCR has various options for that.
The state of emergency in North Kivu was another concern which seriously affects the security of vocal refugees and human rights defenders working on sensitive refugee issues and yet efforts to seek for protection do not attract the attention of so many stakeholders.
Threats against Human Rights Defenders working on refugee issues in Goma, D.R.Congo
We realized that since the visit of Philippo Grandi the UNHCR Boss in Goma towards the end of April 2021 the security of vocal refugees and the security of active human rights defenders working on sensitive refugee issues deteriorated during and after the UNHCR Boss visit in Goma and that has continued up to now.
Death threats, intimidations and risks of possible killings, including office break, threats on phones and other forms of threats have increased to some vocal refugee leaders. We also observed that some authorities became much intolerant to vocal refugees and those advocating for refugee rights.
While we strongly condemn the failure of UNHCR Goma to ensure the protection of vocal refugees and the failure of other organizations to put a particular attention on vocal refugees and human rights defenders working on sensitive refugee issues in DRCongo, we submit the following:
We call upon the government of D.R.Congo which promised security to people in Goma through the state of emergency to do all that it may take to know where Angello is and what could have happened to him, and ensure he is back to his family,
We call upon UNHCR to engage with Congolese Authorities in order to find out what has happened to Angello, and engage with her partners in the region to identify where Angello may be detained from, especially in case he was taken to Rwanda,
We call upon human rights organizations especially those engaged in the protection of Human Rights Defenders to do all that they can to ensure that vocal refugees and human rights defenders in Goma are protected,
We call upon urgent support to his wife and his children and if possible immiidate evacuation to another part of DRCongo where they may be safe, and more efforts should be done towards them during this period of Volcano eruption in Goma,
We call upon urgent interventions towards other vocal refugee refugees leaders and human rights defenders working on refugees at risk in Goma and support them in order to put in place adequate security measures to reduce the risks they are facing,
We call upon all human rights organizations and the media to do all they to identify where Angello is and ensure his safe,
Done in Goma, May 27th, 2021
Global Refugee Leaders Forum/ Humanite Plus.