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Issues addressed by refugees during our Information Session in Goma DRCongo Sunday October 10th, 2021

Briefing on the Information Session with refugees and asylum seekers in Goma today October 10th, 2021

A Refugee Religious Leaders Preaching the word of God to others during the meeting today

As we continue with our awareness activities among refugees and asylum seekers, today’s meeting was attended by 62 refugees, among them women and men. This time meeting saw the participation of young people both boys and girls.

The meeting started at 2:30 pm with a prayer and the sharing of the word of God, where the preacher engaged refugees on hope and faith in God. The meeting ended at 4:18 pm with a concluding prayer by a volunteer.

The second point was various information.

Refugees who attended the meeting of Today listening to what is being addressed

The meeting was informed about four (4) refugees who are sick, one who is getting treatment in a health center supported by UNHCR, one who was sent back home because UNHCR could not pay for her treatment and two others who do not yet have documents. We shall write to UNHCR about that case of a refugee women who has been sent back home from the health center, and the others the big challenge is that they are not yet recognized, this is also still the challenge faced by many asylum seekers who have waited for long in order to get their asylum seeker paper, they cannot access services offered by UNHCR and her partners. We intend to alert UNHCR on this in order to find alternatives.

A refugee also informed us about local leaders in Bukuma Nyiragongo who are collecting 10$ from refugees in order to buy a cemetery where refugees and other foreigners will be buried, on this issue we have opted to go and visit the local leaders in order to understand more about this because refugees are likely not being able to pay this money. We informed participants that generally UNHCR does support the burial arrangements of refugees, may be the challenge is for those who are not yet recognized.

The meeting was also informed the ongoing security operations in Goma and her surroundings, we advised refugees and asylum seekers to cooperate with the security services and always inform the security officers that they are either refugees or asylum seekers during these operations. We have continued sharing our phone numbers with refugees so that they may call us in case of a problem, we have also given appointment papers to all those who are not yet recognized and this may help us to trace them in case they are arrested.

The meeting then focused on the following issues raised by refugees:

One: Refugee who did not get the school fees money from UNHCR: These refugees have continued to report to us, we have engaged UNHCR on this issue but up to now UNHCR Goma has not yet come up with a clear direction of advice towards these refugees, and no one knows yet what happened to the money they were supposed to get. But also others informed us that their money was cut, for example a refugee who had 4 children going to school, he/she was given money only for two. We observed that these refugees are asked to move around in three actors (UNHCR, AIDES, and the Bank) yet none among them is giving refugees the right information. We do intend to write to UNHCR again. We still waiting a clear message from UNHCR on the way forward about this,

Two: The issue of refugees who missed the verification: Refugees who missed the verification in Goma, Karisimbi and Bukumu Divisions are still coming to our offices, we do help them with letters to justify why they missed the verification and so far all those we sent to CNR were received but they do not know yet when they will be verified. It is the same with the refugees who changed their areas of residence, those who were in the meeting today were advised to come tomorrow Monday for the letters. We intend to contact the UNHCR and CNR in order to find out what are the arrangement in place,

Three: On the issue of registration of refugees: A big number of those who attended our meeting were those who want to be registered especially Rwandan refugees of (1994-1998), we continue recording their identities and we hope that both UNHCR and CNR may quickly started their registration process. But so far no one knows when they will be registered, at first CNR claims that these refugees do not want to be registered which seems not entirely true basing on the number of refugees who come to our office in order to be recorded.

Four on the issue of solidarity among refugees: We encouraged refugees to communicate among themselves and share information with other. But fear to be deported back to Rwanda is still too much among so many refugees, this is the cause why refugees lost trust in UNHCR and CNR, many refugees believe that UNHCR and CNR will deport them back to Rwanda by force. We do continue to advise them and help them to learn more about their rights which may be one way to resist against deportation, to help them to know who to talk to and how to support each other in case of a problem. We believe that the solution to this fear is when UNHCR and CNR will start community meetings with refugees and clarify on these perceptions. We intend to invite UNHCR and talk to refugees on various issues,

Refugees leaders being given space to engage with their fellow refugees

And lastly refugees were informed about the launch of our activities towards the end of October 2021 and called upon those who can join us to come and those who can contribute to do so.

Announcements were made about our various activities and the new activity which is starting tomorrow Monday October 11th, 2021 is the field visits to refugees in their communities where they live and interact with them but also interact with the local leaders on issues about the protection of refugees and asylum seekers,

Thanks

Author: Kuliloshi Pecos