ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON REFUGEES IN EASTERN D.R.CONGO
In connection with World Refugee Day we encouraged each person to ask us a question about Refugees in D.R.CONGO. We have received 7 questions and here are the answers we propose. Thank you very much for those who want to know more and to be aware of their task towards these Refugees who need the Solidarity of the Congolese People "The Refugees are not problems but they have problems". We have proposed to take a different way and help you to know that there are thousands of refugees inside D.R.Congo have remained unknown over the years and whose existence is highly compromised. Let us have an idea about these refugees and together forge away forward towards them.
1. How many Refugees are in R.D.CONGO and where do they come from?
R / Officially according to UNHCR statistics, R.D.CONGO has more than 550,000 refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan and the Central African Republic. However they are also few from Somalia and Ethiopia.
But a large number of Rwandan Refugees is not yet identified, for example in North Kivu the CNR estimates Refugees at 100,000 but in reality they are more than 700,000 in North Kivu alone and who are not yet identified because this service is not available. We then distance ourselves the official figures that exist which are likely to give a wrong perception about refugees in D.R.Congo.
2. Where do the Refugees live in Goma and North Kivu?
R / In North Kivu Refugees do not have camps/ Settlements which is very regrettable, and some live among the local population, and others in sites that they themselves have set up. While other refugees live in Camps in DRCONGO those in North Kivu are denied that opportunity due to reasons which are not yet known. We ask that there are official residences for Refugees.
3. Why do Rwandans not want to go home? Are they genocidaires?
R / According to statistics from several studies, more than 86% of Rwandan refugees in D.R.CONGO came either at the age of less than 5 years in 1994 or were born on Congolese soil. So they did not participate in the genocide in Rwanda. And Rwanda would have a list of Genocidaires where Refugees are not. These are just refugees who are seeking for protection.
4. Are these people you say Refugees not members of the armed groups, especially the Interahamwe and the FDLR?
A / This may requires a search however some refugees would have Family Members in several Armed Groups generally to protect themselves and their families in areas where the Congolese Government does not exist. However, thousands of refugees are simple civilians, largely women and children who currently make up more than 90% of the refugee population in North Kivu, and often left to their own devices. In actual sense, Refugees are not Fighters.
5. How do these Refugees live on the Humanitarian level?
R / Their situation is catastrophic on the Humanitarian level because they do not receive humanitarian assistance. Their urgent needs are: food, shelter, medical care, education, and security. Some are in small jobs, businesses and others who are in Armed Groups engaged in the looting of natural resources, especially here in eastern DRCONGO. We must more criminalize those who refuse Humanitarian aid to Refugees, especially the UNHCR.
6. What is UNHCR doing to take care of these refugees? And why UNHCR is not able to solve the problems of the refugees?
R / I am not a spokesperson for the UNHCR but here in North Kivu DRCongo UNHCR does not have programs to solve the problems of the refugees. The UNHCR is above all seems to be more on the question of maintaining its presence and ensuring that the ground is not empty. The UNHCR in the East seems to be more political, and in itself part of the problem rather than being a solution to the problems of the refugees. There is a great deal of work to be done for the UNHCR to be involved in the situation of the refugees. In North Kivu, for example, the UNHCR and its partners are more concerned with Internally Displaced Persons by abandoning the Refugees and this seems to be deliberate.
7. Is the RDCONGO a victim of the international conspiracy?
R / Contrary to what some people think, the management of Refugees is above all an internal affair of the DRCONGO and then the country can appeal for support from the International Community. So far the RDCONGO has no Policy to properly manage the Refugees. Before even blaming the International Community, the DRCONGO must first assume its responsibilities. For us the first thing is first of all the RDCONGO and that would go through Reforms of the National Commission for Refugees (CNR) by a National Policy, by necessary financial means, by human resources and by materials.
Thanks a lot
Jackson Baguma Ntamuzinda
Global Refugee Leaders Forum / Humanite Plus based in Kyeshoro, Goma- RDCONGO