Rwanda security services continue to target refugees in Goma North Kivu, DRCongo despite promises by the Democratic Republic of Congo to ensure the protection of refugees. But also why is UNHCR silent?
In February 2019 the current DRCongo President Felix Tshisekedi committed to ensure the protection of refugees during his meeting with the UNHCR Boss in Addis-Ababa Ethiopia. Since them both UNHCR and the Government of DRCongo went into slumber and unfortunately Rwandan refugees have heavily paid the price.
Generally the pretext advanced to arrest, kill or extradite a refugee is to claim that the refugee was a soldier or the refugee was in armed groups fighting against the current Rwandan regime.
Basing on information provided by vocal refugee leaders in Goma so far since 2019 more than 10 refugees have been victims among them include:
3 have been secretly deported to Rwanda by various security services and unfortunately authorities in-charge of refugees seemed to have been informed but they did nothing or may be even some played a role to facilitate the secrete extradition.
4 refugees from Rwanda have been assassinated in Goma and in other parts of North Kivu by people believed to be security operatives from Rwanda,
One refugee by the name of Angelo is missing since May 2021 up to now and no one knows his whereabouts,
One Rwandan refugee survived being deported due to the mobilization of other refugees, he was arrested and then later released, up to now his is living in hiding,
One Rwandan refugee survived assassination but he was shot in his two legs and up to now his still nursing his situation.
Note: We have only focused on those who have the refugee status basing on their refugee documents but there are others who have been also victims but they did not have refugee documents and we do not know why UNHCR and CNR Goma have failed to provide refugees with documents up to now.
Basing on our information the following actors seem to be more responsible for all these abuses.
The Military Intelligence Services of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Goma known as (T2), many refugees are familiar with this department because of having been detained there, and all those who are to be secretly deported pass through T2,
The Congolese General Directorate of Migration known as (DGM –Goma) that plays the role to deport of give way for those who are deporting refugees, sometimes there are no records of those who have been deported,
The Congolese National Refugee Commission known as (CNR-Goma), in some cases CNR has been fully informed about the case of refugees at T2 and in difficult security situation and has not helped,
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees known as (UNHCR Goma), it has remained silent, has not intervened quickly to save some cases and does not even have in place a formal way which refugees can use to alert them about the situation. Refugees do accuse local UNHCR staffs who they think are in collaboration with Rwanda, refugees believe that even some UNHCR Goma staffs live in Rwanda and because of that they are already corrupt by Rwanda, refugees believe that some UNHCR staffs in Goma are Rwandans who may be connected to the Rwandan regime and refugees argue that they do not have ways to alert UNHCR International staffs.
Our efforts to engage with UNHCR and help to build up a direct contact with refugees in Goma have not yet been fruitful because UNHCR has not responded to our emails.
It is urgent and we request whoever will get this message who may have access to President Felix Tshesekedi to ask him to make urgent reforms in the Congolese National Commission for Refugees (CNR) by putting in place new approaches which are based of the protection of refugees, by putting in place a human resource that can fully address the challenge and financial support to this government refugee institution,
We request also those who may influence UNHCR to request her to put in place policies that favor the protection of all refugees in North Kivu, put in place human resource that are committed towards the protection of refugees and to stop the UNHCR culture of silence,
To advocate for urgent registration of all refugees and to grant documents to all refugees in North Kivu,
To advocate to the military authorities to put an end to arrests of refugees by T2 and leave this work to the National Police,