Report on information session with refugees in Goma DRCongo on Sunday October 17th,2021 at our offices

Report of the information session with refugees and asylum seekers in Goma, North Kivu DRC held of Sunday October 17th, 2021 at our offices in Kyeshero Goma.

Our weekly information session with refugees started at 2:20 pm and witnessed the high presence of refugees and asylum seekers from Goma and its surroundings. Much as women are still the majority, we do also observe a big presence of men and few young people. In total 59 people attended the meeting and came from various places in Goma.

We continue facing the challenges of space to accommodate the big number of people, but also chairs and other office necessities such as water to drink. The meeting continues to witness the presence of people who need emergency interventions such as those affected by hunger, by sickness and vulnerable groups among refugees and asylum seekers.

The administration of the organization intends to hold a meeting in order to come up with responses which could address the above issues. We need an office with space that can accommodate a big number of people, provide food for those in difficult situation and have a space where asylum seekers can stay as a transit when they come to Goma.

Point One: Opening Prayer and the word of God

The meeting started by the prayer done by a refugee volunteer and then followed by the word of God done by one among refugees who is a religious leader in the community.

Point Two: Sharing of information

Refugees shared with others various information they know among them some indicated the following:

Over the weekend unidentified people moved in some parts of Bukumu claiming to register refugees on our behalf. We told refugees that we do not know about those people, and in the next time they should ask them who they are and alert us quickly.

Refugees indicated about a Rwandan asylum seekers who was short dead last week around Goma, we have not yet verified this information,

Some refugees still believe that they will be arrested and be deported to Rwanda that is why they want to remain in hide. We continue to create awareness about this but it is a big problem and needs funding,

Some refugees and asylum seekers who are Tutsi indicated how they are stigmatized by others. We also assured them that we do not tolerate discrimination and we serve all people equally.

Refugees and asylum seekers who are sick were also presented, the meeting was also informed about the intervention of UNHCR towards a refugee women who was in critical situation, as she is now in hospital.

The meeting was also informed about the military operations in Kyeshero on Wednesday October 13th, 2021 which led to the arrest and the deportation of 6 foreigners among them 2 are believed by refugees to be asylum seekers from Rwanda. We told refugees that we are working on the issue of the protection of asylum seekers and we have already contacted some stakeholders in this field but also at the same, refugees and asylum seekers should be identified and they should indicate to local leaders that they are asylum seekers, and report to us so that we can follow up in case of any problem,

We also took enough time to explain to all those who missed the verification exercise to go and do it, as it has been opened to those who were absent. But as we have indicated with various stakeholders, the best way to mobilize refugees is through community work and this needs clear funding to be available,

Point Three: The registration of new refugees

Many refugees and asylum seekers are wondering when will they be registered and issued Identity Cards especially during this time when the whole Province is under the Military regime. Both UNHCR and the CNR are still silent on this issue. Refugees and asylum seekers were also concerned about the absence of UNHCR in their various situations, and particularly all asylum seekers who are not yet registered are wondering how to access services especially when they are sick. We have written to UNHCR on the issue of asylum seekers but we have not yet obtained a clear position on this,

As we wait for UNHCR to come up with response, we believe that it is urgent to have some services available for them such as food, shelter, medical care and the education for their children and this is one among the projects we shall focus on once we get opportunity of funding,

Issues at hand

The meeting was informed about an “open door meeting” which is being organized by UNHCR, CNR and heir implementing partner and refugees in the meeting raised so many questions in the manner such initiative is organized, the participants and the clear strategy to leave out vocal refugees,

The meeting also was informed about the lack of information on how UNHCR responds to the needs of refugees. We are much aware of the lack of information and we do observe that both UNHCR and CNR may not have a clear communication strategy with refugees or may be the approaches being used are not effective, we hope to come and facilitate the flow of information between refugees and all stakeholders,

Refugees and asylum seekers who attended the meeting raised money among themselves in order to pay for the house rent for one refugee women who has nowhere to stay.

Some refugees have not yet received the money distributed by UNHCR for the education of their children, some received for some children and others no. We communicate to UNHCR on this issue but no clear response has been given to refugees up to now.

Point Four: Announcements

The meeting ended by various announcement about our activities, and the asylum seekers were particularly briefed about the whole refugee status process, their rights and their obligations as refugees, what they can do and what they should not do.

The meeting ended at 4:10 pm with a prayer from one among the participants. Our next meeting will be on Sunday.


Author: Kuliloshi Pecos