Home NewsInternational Congolese Refugees Demonstrate Against Continued Persecution By DRC Government

Congolese Refugees Demonstrate Against Continued Persecution By DRC Government

by Daniel Sabiiti
1:07 pm

Women and Children among protesters with placards in the Congolese refugee camp in Kiziba

Congolese refugees living in Rwanda have protested against the ongoing discrimination of Kinyarwanda speaking communities in their home country.

The peaceful protests which kicked off this March 4 will run through March 11, 2024 and will take place across various refugee camps in Rwanda.

Today protesters from Kiziba refugee camp in Karongi district and those from Nkamira transit centre from Rubavu district took up to street with placards  expressing their grievances.

They said they denounce the “Genocide being perpetrated by the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC) against the Tutsi of North Kivu, Banyamulenge of South Kivu and Bahema of Ituri”

A crowd of Congolese refugees heading to the protest site in Kiziba

A mother of four from Nkamira who fled her country from Rutshuru region in 2023 after her husband was attacked and kidnapped by the Congolese rebel forces (FDLR and Wazalendo) is one of the refugees who shared her particular story.

She said that the Congolese army and their allies who include the so called Force Democratique pour la Liberation du Rwanda(FDLR), a terror organisation which perpetrated the Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda entered her house saying that they were looking for the enemy.  They started beating her husband, accusing him of being a Tutsi.

“They masked his face and kidnapped him. We never saw him ever since,” the lady said.

Persistent attacks and harassment from the Wazalendo forced the lady to escape with her children to Rwanda, where she finds a peace of mind though she still struggles with demand for food and nutrition as a refugee in Nkamira transit camp.

Some of the refugees told Kigali Today that the genocide against Tutsi which happened in Rwanda in 1994, was stopped but it continued into the DRC, where the Tutsi are killed systematically and see their properties looted yet DRC government and the international community does nothing about it.

The refugees denounced the current alleged genocide against Tutsi in DRC and called on both the Kinshasha government and international community to act immediately.

Some of the Congolese elderly refugees who attended the protests in Rwanda

Similar protests will be held in other Congolese refugee camps such as Mahama in Kirehe district and Nyabiheke in Gatsibo district (March 6); Kigeme and Mugombwa camps in Nyamagabe (March 7 and 8 respectively).

The protests will close on March 11, with protesters submitting their petition papers to selected embassies in Kigali.

Refugee Status:

As of end of September 2023, Rwanda hosted 135,733 refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced populations. The majority, 84,867 (62.5%) come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 50,146 (36.9%) from Burundi, 587 (0.4%) are hosted at the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) and 133 (0.1%) refugees and asylum seekers from other nationalities. Approximately, 94% of these individuals reside in camps, with the remaining 6% living in urban areas.

Rwanda has also experienced an influx of new asylum seekers due to increased instability in the Eastern DRC since November 2022, with approximately 12,684 recorded as of the end of September 2023 with numbers anticipated to grow in the next year.

Rwanda’ s policies provide for refugee inclusion into national services such as education, health, socio-economic and financial services (including access to investment & bank accounts) as outlined in Article 18 of the Law n°13ter/ 2014 of 21/05/2014. This law ensures that refugees enjoy the rights provided for by international refugee instruments.

Refugees have access to civil registration and documentation, including Proof of Registration (PoR), birth and marriage certificates, and refugee IDs issued by the Government of Rwanda for those above 16 years old. All new arrivals/asylum seekers in Rwanda, undergo individual Refugee Status Determination (RSD) by the Refugee Status Determination Committee (RSDC).

UNHCR provides shelter and communal services as a core life-saving activity to all refugees living in camps in Rwanda. Due to environmental degradation, including landslides and giant ravines caused by soil erosion and lack of proper drainage facilities in the camps, families in high-risk zones of landslides continue to be relocated into new shelters or to the other camps.

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