Summery of our weekly meeting with refugees in Goma July 15th, 2021

Summary of our meeting with refugees in Goma held on Sunday August 15th, 2021 at our offices
As usual the meeting started late towards 3pm because people came late.
Three points were discussed:
General information about refugees, combating false information and the vision of the DRCongo President about refugees. These false information come from various political actors who have interests in the current situation of refugees and wish that the situation remains unchanged.
Point One
The meeting was informed about the number of refugees who are sick and who have resorted to harbor practices because they do not have access to medical treatment in the two centers which partner with UNHCR, but also refugees who are running away from ongoing war against armed groups in Masisi. The meeting also focused so much on the situation of more than 70 foreigners who were arrested last week during security forces operations in Mapendo and Mikeno in Goma.
In reaction to these issues Mr. Jackson Baguma the Regional Coordinator of Global Refugee Leaders Forum informed the public that a letter has been sent to UNHCR on these discriminatory practices against refugees who cannot access medical treatment among other issues, but also an email was sent to UNHCR and the CNR to get involved in the situation of those foreigners arrested in order to ensure that asylum seekers are not victims. But also a call was made to all refugees and asylum seekers to register and to identify themselves in areas where they live so that local authorities can help them, many refugees are still resistant to this claiming that they fear to be deported back to Rwanda. But also participants were informed that we are waiting for the programme from the National Human Rights Commission in order to visit those arrested but the challenge remains the financial means.
Minute Two
With the current work in place we have observed that some refugees are being used by others actives forces which have benefited from the massive violations of refugees rights. Some among these forces do perceive our advocacy as threat and will make refugees more organized in order to resist to the violations observed.
They use the following five (5) strategies which are among their communication lobbying and influences to refugees in Goma currently:
Some refugees are demoralizing others showing them that advocacy and the commitment to human rights cannot help them, they are portraying a negative and discouraging refugees to be determined for their rights. They are highly involved in circulating false information showing that their enemy is very powerful, harmful, and dangerous and because of that refugees should hide on live in clandestinely or acquire fraudulently Congolese documents. This is observed among Rwandan refugees in Goma. This strategy aims at dispersing refugees and therefore keep them in the current situation and then pick them one by one,
Showing refugees that nothing much can be done in DRCongo in order to improve their situation and that the only thing they can do is to work together in order to charge the regime in Rwanda. This strategy aims at making refugee desire to live a better life a political struggle in order to expose refugees to all forms of risks, but also they would be seen as part of rebels,
Among refugees some are circulating arguments that nothing can be done and that the only thing is to remain home and pray God. This is well calculated in order to discourage refugees and minimize their efforts to get united in order to make a voice,
Show refugees that they do waste their time once they come together and put ideas together, show them that these meetings are useless and that it is a mere wastage of time. The enemies of refugees are much aware how they will act once they manage to come together and speak with one voice,
Show that refugee status has no value and that there is no need to have it and discourage refugees to register and promote more the use of Congolese documents,
We encouraged refugees to remained determined and stand for their common interests as refugees and especially work together as a group, but also encouraged refugees to distance themselves from political activities and desist from circulating wrong information.
The meeting was concluded by announcements about our current activities and encouraged refugees to register for those activities.
The next meeting will be on Sunday at 2pm.

Author: Kuliloshi Pecos