Meeting with refugees in Goma on Sunday October 24th, 2021 focusing on issues about their documents

A refugee religious leader engaging other refugees in the word of God from the Bible

Summery of the meeting with refugees and asylum seekers in Goma held on Sunday October 24th, 2021 at our offices in Goma.

The meeting started at 2:20 pm with a prayer conducted by one refugee and then the sharing of the word of God by one refugee religious leader for 30 minutes.

The meeting was highly attended by women and this time saw the participation of young people. As it was for last Sunday, the meeting was attended by a large number of people to the point that we could not have enough space for them. This opens for us new challenges to think about a big space and at the same time conduct a survey on how refugees and asylum seekers get information and what the existing channels for communication are in order to make it available for the use of other stakeholders who may wish to extend services to refugees.

Point one:

The participants were briefed about an open letter which was signed by 100 refugees addressed to both CNR and the UNHCR protesting against the way they are conducting matters affecting refugees. We pledged to support the freedom of expression to refugees and we shall share their letter on our various platforms and contacts.

Point two:

The registration of new refugees especially those of the period from 1994-1998 who have not yet received refugee documents, the cases of asylum seekers who have being waiting for the refugee status for more than 8 to 10 years now, asylum seekers who have reported to CNR and who have not yet been issued a letter and the issue of the verification of refugees who have not yet done the verification.

We observed that issuing of refugee documents has stopped and we do not know why, in this we intend to engage with the CNR and UNHCR Goma. Refugee documents are more than urgent during this period when the Nord Kivu is under military regime, and in the process allegations continue to come to us about the deportation of foreigners among them some might have come to seek asylum.

The meeting also focused on social issues among refugees and asylum seekers mainly the problems of house rent, food to and medical treatment. So far we briefed them that UNHCR has in some situations helped with medical treatment to some refugees who are sick but not yet all, however we do not know yet what is the UNHCR plan on the issue of asylum seekers. We also briefed them about our advocacy on the issue of shelter, food and other humanitarian needs to refugees. Basing on the Refugee Urban Committee, they said that UNHCR claimed that Rwandan have been getting humanitarian assistance since 1994 up to now and that there is now a donor fatigue. However the participants could not agree with that explanation which they viewed as political in favor of the Government of Rwanda, and screemed how comes UNHCR has not yet changed her strategy towards Rwandan refugees since 1994.

Point 3:

On various information, first of all refugee collected money among themselves in order to support a refugee woman who was chased from her home, and the pledged to also support in this but these cases are so common and may need a holistic approach.

After making investigations we clarified on the issue of an asylum seeker who was recently killed in Goma, and some refugees in our previous meeting attributed this to Rwandan regime, so far information we got indicated that it he was killed during a robbery by the thieves and this had nothing to do with Rwandan regime.

On the issue of current meetings of UNHCR in Geneva in order to focus on the plans for next year 2022 refugees continue to wonder how comes they are not yet consulted and yet UNHCR claims that refugees are regularly consulted throughout the year, which we highly question the accuracy.

The meeting was also informed about one asylum seeker who was arrested over the weekend by security services in Mubambiro near Goma on ground that he did not have valid documents, and he is currently detained at T2 in Goma where the security services are demanding 200$ in order to release him according to his family members.

The meeting was also briefed about various cases of refugees who are sick, we pledged to engage with UNHCR on those cases in order to follow up.

All refugees who have challenges with the Congolese National Commission for Refugees known as (CNR) where encouraged to come to our offices and we shall advocate for their causes.

The meeting ended at 4:30 pm

Author: Kuliloshi Pecos