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The situation of refugees in Goma during last week: Points from our meeting on Yesterday Sunday

Key issues during the meeting with refugees held on Sunday November 21st, 2021 at our offices in Goma the Democratic Republic of Congo

Despite the heavy rain in the afternoon that affected some parts of Goma still 40 refugees turned up for their weekly briefing meeting, among them 22 women, 16 men and two young people.

Point one: The meeting started at 2:20 pm with a prayer from one volunteer from the participants.

Point two: Information among refugees in their communities for the whole week.

The mindset of refugees in Goma during last was dominated by the following events as pointed out by the participants:

The security operations in one among the refugee concentrated area called Kabutembo in Goma, where more than 42 foreigners were arrested and probably deported back to Rwanda. We are still facing challenges to ensure the protection of refugees as the military authorities continue to argue that they don’t know who is a refugee/asylum seeker and an illegal migrant, and the CNR that is silent of issue of identification to all refugees.

The confusion among refugees over the rumor that UNHCR is cutting out medical support assistance to some refugees mainly those from Rwanda in 2022. Many refugees especially the vulnerable who access this service a low price are worried. We tried to engage UNHCR on this they remained silent claiming that the refugee community knows what will happen. Our view and position is that UNHCR should improve this programme, make it more effective and accessible to all refugees and make sure it is totally free.

The proposed building of houses for the victims of Nyiragongo Volcano by the Government of Rwanda, refugees are worried that this may push to the highly presence of Rwanda security services in Goma that will affect their security. As also has said other actors of the Civil Society, we do welcome such donation from Rwanda but the money should be given to the Government of DRCongo.

The new CNR Commissioner who seems to have blocked all that had been started. Refugees are concerned that since the new Commissioner came into office, all programs that could benefit refugees were stopped up to now, since August up to now: The verification was stopped, the registration of refugees of 1994, the grant of refugee status, among others. We do not know why the CNR seems to be absent in the lives of refugees, we have tried to engage with the new Commissioner but he always say he is in meetings and that when he is free he will tell us. No one knows his plans about refugees.

Congolese who registered as refugees: Refugees shared among themselves issues that a big number of Congolese are registered as refugees in the CNR and UNHCR database and they are the ones who consume most of the aid that could have been channeled to refugees. Refugees indicated that they have raised this issue to UNHCR several times but not action has been take yet to delete Congolese from the database and to hold accountable officers who were involved in this malpractice.

Point three: Leadership among refugees

Refugees were briefed about the end of the term in the office of the current urban refugee leadership committee and the need to get prepared for the elections. This brought a big debate about the elections, among refugees there is a debate between Rwandans and Burundians who should be the president, many refugees are not certain if the elections will be free, fair and inclusive as many doubt about the good will of CNR to organize these elections, who will be eligible for the various positions, who will be allowed to vote, and if really refugees will vote the persons they want.

Point Four: Various announcements

The meeting was informed about refugees who have social problems to pay their rent, to access medical treatment, legal cases, those who have been visited by thieves, and those in prisons,

We continued to inform them about our different activities and encouraged them to benefit from these activities,

This week we shall start our activities in Nyiragongo and we invite refugees from their who have challenges with the long distance to come to our new place for the meeting on Thursday morning,

 

Author: Kuliloshi Pecos