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Democratic Republic of Congo refugees sheltered at Nkamira Transit Centre have been assured of support and protection as they await for their country to regain peace and be repatriated. 

Congolese Refugees
Congolese Refugees

The assurance was given on Saturday by Ertharin Cousin, the UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) during her visit at the transit centre located in Rubavu District.

Ertharin Cousin

She said that WFP in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda and other partners will make sure the refugees in the transit centre do not run short of food and primary healthcare, during their stay there.

The centre currently shelters over 9,600 refugees who fled the violence in the eastern part of DRC.

During her visit, Cousin interacted with refugees who told her the challenges they face including lack of education for their children, disintegration of families, deplorable sleeping conditions and access to many other basic needs.

They requested the international community and other partners to ensure that the condition normalises in their country so that they return home, other than living as refugees.

Cousin with children

“I am responsible for insuring that you get enough food and your children are not malnourished. We care for you and we want to ensure your safety before you return to your country,” Cousin told refugees. “We are partners and you have to know that the world cares for you.”

According Antoine Ruvebana the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Rwanda has played its role in making sure refugees from DRC are accommodated in the best conditions possible.

“We are assuring you of safety while in Rwanda. We will make sure your children attend school after they do a bridge English course. Our overriding wish, however, is to see that the conditions that make you refugees are dealt with,” said Ruvebana.

Relocation plans 

Ruvebana told refugees that Nkamira Transit Centre was not reserved for foreign refugees but to temporarily host Rwandan refugees returning from other countries.

He promised the Congolese refugees that they would soon be relocated to another camp in  Gisagara District in the Southern Province which will be constructed soon.

He added that once the camp is completed, it will help refugees get enough space for their families to live safely and separately.

Refugees speak out   

“We fled DRC following wars and violence. We were welcomed but our biggest challenge is this camp is too close to our country and at times we do not feel safe enough. We want to be relocated in other camps far from here and if you really speak to the world, we need peace in our country so we go back home,” said Emmanuel Simbonankira, one of refugees.

Suzan Mukamuganga said she lost her son when they were fleeing and doesn’t know his whereabouts; she appealed for support so she finds him.

Rwanda shelters around 70,000 Congolese refugees who fled to Rwanda in various periods due to wars in the country.

Those currently in Nkamira started fleeing early last year.

The New Times