What is your answer to this question? What UNHCR and CNR say is different from what refugees are telling us now.
This year when we started our activities in Goma, DRCongo we realized that many refugees are not registered, they don’t have documents and as consequence cannot access services and remain a prey of various forms of exploitation.
We asked one simple question “why are refugees not registered? and we got various answers which did not convince us”. Motivated by this phrase from Helder Camara “when I feed to hungry, they call me a Good Samaritan, but when I ask why people are hungry, they call me a Communist”.
Here are some feedback:
In our meeting in March 2021 UNHCR Goma argued “we did mobilization calling upon refugees to come to register but some come and others not, many do not want to be refugees”.
In a meeting with the Congolese National Commission for Refugees (CNR) in Goma, we were told “those you are saying do not want to be registered as refugees, they want to use Congolese National Voter’s Cards and many among them are rebels”,
Then to refugees “we are here, many amongst us do not have access to information, but we also fear being deported back to Rwanda, by those working in UNHCR and CNR”
Since June 2021 we put an activity to record refugees who do not have documents and generally they do come to our offices to register and we do not have any problem with the resistance of people, and so far we continue seeing refugees who want to be registered and given the Refugee Identifications. More than 500 households which is more than 3,000 individuals have visited our offices and their only question is “when shall we get our identifications?
Surprisingly with this reality UNHCR and CNR have remained silent. So questions remain. Is UNHCR and CNR committed towards the protection of refugees? Do they have genuine information which can help them to make good decisions in favor of refugees, is UNHCR and CNR part of the game to discourage efforts towards refugee protection? What does silence means to UNHCR and CNR? What are the interests of UNHCR and CNR in maintaining the current situation? How can we best address such situation? How best can we restore back a positive image of UNHCR and CNR among refugees? Is this the problem of refugees complex and difficult to solve as UNHCR and CNR argue?