Kakuru Jean a Rwandan Refugee Community Leader in Goma DRC attacked by that refugee militia group created by the refugee regime on ground that he supports our campaign for the promotion of refugee rights.
Jean Claude is one among active refugee community leader based in Goma, he is so much active in the protection of his fellow refugees and has been so much vocal on various refugee issues. Jean Claude helps all actors who want to engage on refugee issues and because of his availability we have been closely working with him as he represents us in Nyiragongo Territory, North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
For the last few months, Jean Claude like other vocal refugees have been facing threats and intimidations why he is working with us on issues of human rights. On Saturday March 5th, 2022 Jean Claude lost a child who died due to poor access to medical treatment. During the burial of this child some vocal refugees came and together we observed how arrangements were made. Questions were raised on how much money is given by UNHCR to facilitate burial arrangement and how is that money used, and why that money is not given directly to the concerned family, as this money is kept a top secret.
Such questions did not please the refugee regime militia group deployed to manage the money, and this created tensions but efforts were made to calm it down, but this group was not satisfied that some refugees are now concerned about the money. Now on Thursday March 10th, 2022 this group came to the field as part of the team carrying out a survey on behalf of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). They called Jean Claude to mobilize for them refugees which he did very well, in the process the local leaders in the area were informed about the presence of some people meeting refugees yet they were not informed. They deployed their agents to find out who these people were, when the team from JRS saw this, they quickly believed it could have been Jean Claude who might have reported them to the local authorities, in the process the group of refugees who are being used by the refugee regime, attacked Jean Claude, and injured him as you can see on this picture, but also they damaged his phone, as the phone was perceived as a tool to communicate with us and with other people.
Jean Claude reported the case to the nearest Police, someone called Alexis who attacked him was arrested by the Police, but it is believed that pressure came from various actors within the refugee regime and Alexis was released who aggressed Jean Claude was released in the evening the same day of Thursday March 10th, 2022. It is also believed that deals and arrangements rotating on money could have motivated the Police to release Alexis.
We moved to the field in Ngangi2, Nyiragongo and helped Jean Claude to access emergency medical treatment, we moved to the Police but when they saw us the Police claimed they do not want to see us and to meet human rights defenders, they did not receive but told us to wait for the case at Court. We alerted UNHCR about how this “refugee militia group” put in place has been aggressive against other refugees, but UNHCR Goma responded negatively and showed that the group should not criticized, but also UNHCR Goma did not propose anything about Jean Claude who was aggressed.
We started our activities on refugee issues in eastern DRCongo in February 2021 and proposed a human rights approach as one among the best ways to promote the protection of refugees in this part of the country. The statistics of refugees in DRC are not known because thousands among them have never been registered, UNHCR estimates refugees in DRC at around 556,000 a number which we strongly detest, we believe that UNHCR in DRC could be around 1,500,000 among them over 60% are residing in the east.
The challenge is that the refugee regime is not comfortable with the human rights approach, with our position to pay a particular attention on various violations of refugees rights, with the desire to promote a transparent refugee affaire, to empower refugees to make demands, and to seek for accountability, the refugee regime has reacted with threats, intimidations and strategy of isolation among others.
Our field staffs have been threatened, our offices were broken into, and campaigns to blackmail us has been going on. Actions to have us arrested and prosecuted were engaged, some among our staff members are living in hiding as some refugees said they would kidnap them, and currently refugees who come to our offices are either threatened not to access services offered by the refugee regime or told that they will be punished if they do not stop to associate with us.
Vocal refugee leaders who are close to us, are already blacklisted and blackmailed, they are considered as the worst people to deal with and other refugees are mobilized not to associate with them.
We call upon various actors especially the Donors who support the work of UNHCR in the Democratic Republic of Congo to:
Urgently prioritize transparency and accountability about each single funding given to UNHCR to support refugees in eastern DRC, donors should make public through media, social media, conferences and other forms each money donated to UNHCR and what it is intended to do,
Donors should put in place a particular funding opportunity to support the protection and risk management for vocal refugee leaders in eastern DRC,
Donors should put in place other forms of funding which can be accessible by various organizations in order to support the work of refugees in eastern DRC including very flexible funding opportunities which can be easily accessed by small refugee groups,
Donors should swiftly advocate for the change of UNHCR policy and UNHCR staffs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in order to put in place a policy and a human resource that is engaged towards the promotion of refugee rights,
We humbly request for urgent actions to ensure that Jean Claude is safe, can access adequate medical treatment, and can be supported for a legal action.
We call upon UNHCR Goma, UNHCR Kinshasa, UNHCR Africa and UNHCR Geneva to dissolved urgently this refugee militia group put in place, and come to the aid of refugees who have been so far affected by this group,
Kulihoshi Musikami Luc
In-charge of Refugees and Foreigners
COJESKI-DRC, Coordination of North Kivu, Goma.
Tel: +243973704159, WhatsApp: +243853191163,