Belgium provides crucial and timely support to refugees in Rwanda

Wednesday, 06 December 2017 20:34 by administrator

Kigali: The Kingdom of Belgium has contributed a total of 1.5 million EUR to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP – 1M EUR) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR – 500,000 EUR) in order to maintain food assistance for over 128,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees as well as asylum seekers residing in camps in Rwanda, and to pilot an innovative cooking fuel solution for refugees to enhance their livelihoods and reduce environmental, health and protection impacts of cooking.

The contribution was announced on Wednesday 6th December 2017 by the Belgium to Rwanda Ambassdor Benoît Ryelandt during his official visit to Gihembe refugee camp where he was received by the Honourable Minister of MIDIMAR, Minister Jeanne d’Arc de Bonheur, the UN Refugee Agency’s Representative, Mr. Ahmed Baba Fall, and the World Food Programme Deputy Representative, Mr. Siddiqui Abdurrahim.

"On behalf of the Government of Rwanda, I commend the Kingdom of Belgium for a total of 1.5 million EUR contribution to WFP and UNHCR in order to maintain food assistance for Burundian and Congolese refugees as well as asylum seekers residing in camps in Rwanda,” said Minister of MIDIMAR, Minister Jeanne d’Arc de Bonheur.

“Furthermore, we expect that the initiative of clean cooking fuel pilot will help achieve both environmental protection providing efficient cooking techniques which will as well reduce indoor air pollution. The current climate change challenges call for innovative solutions alternative to firewood. We are always working for the people, for our planet and our prosperity. As the Government of Rwanda, we are committed to doing our best to make sure all contributions available reach the specific beneficiaries.  Meeting the needs of the refugees and asylum seekers in terms of food and nutrition situation prevent malnutrition in the population, especially among women, young children and other vulnerable groups,” added Minister DeBonheur.

This contribution is critical as food ration cuts have been implemented across all camps in Rwanda by 10% as of last month, and are expected to continue if further contributions are not received. Refugees in Rwanda’s camps continue to entirely depend on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs.

H.E. Benoît Ryelandt, praised the Rwandan Authorities commitment to host and accommodate refugees. He underscored Belgium’s willingness to support Rwanda in this endeavour, aknowledging Rwanda’s limited resources and already high population pressure. BE encourages the initiatives to improve an economical and environmental sustainable integration of the refugees.

The Belgian contribution has allowed WFP to  purchase mainly maize and beans for Burundian refugees as well as cash transfers to Congolese refugees to enable them to buy food from local markets. WFP also purchased fortified blended food, to support the most vulnerable people who are in need of a particular diet. In addition to monthly food distributions and cash transfers, WFP also provides supplementary food for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under the age of five, people receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

“WFP is grateful to the Kingdom of Belgium for its continuous commitment to refugees in Rwanda, the region and around the globe.” said WFP Rwanda Country Director and Representative Jean-Pierre de Margerie.  “This much valued support from Belgium is important  in meeting the food needs Burundians and Congolese who have fled their homes to Rwanda,” he added.

Belgium’s 500,000 EUR contribution to UNHCR will enable 19,500 Congolese refugees in Kigeme camp, located in Rwanda’s Southern Province, and the host community members, to have access to clean cooking through cash to purchase sustainably produced pellets, which includes the lease of clean and highly efficient cook stoves.

As UNHCR and WFP are both providing cash assistance in Kigeme camp, in lieu of food and in-kind support traditionally provided by UNHCR such as blankets, soap, etc., refugees will be able to opt to buy the clean fuel+stove package with their cash allowances. UNHCR has partnered with a Rwandan private sector social enterprise, Inyenyeri, on the project for alternative, clean energy for cooking in the camp.

The project intends to eliminate the use of firewood among refugees in Kigeme (and in surrounding host community) by ensuring that refugees have access to an affordable and sustainable alternative. This will lead to reduced negative environmental, climate and health effects of firewood use for cooking. Belgium together with UNHCR and MIDIMAR will officially launch the project in Kigeme camp in early 2018.

“UNHCR is proud to launch a camp-wide clean cooking fuel pilot with Inyenyeri, thanks to Belgium’s support.” highlighted the UNHCR Representative. “Furthermore, UNHCR warmly welcomes Belgium’s generous contribution to ensure food is provided for refugees throughout Rwanda. Food and nutrition have an impact on every sector in the camps; it affects security, health, school attendance, participation of the refugee committees and so on. UNHCR hopes to work together with WFP to apply targeted assistance, to ensure the right aid is effectively reaching the right beneficiaries.”

Rwanda currently hosts 163,000 refugees in six camps. Of these, 128,000 people are camp based and are entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance. The increasing influx of Burundian refugees into Rwanda due to insecurity in the region has resulted in greater resourcing needs for WFP and UNHCR to meet the basic needs of refugees.

Located in Gicumbi District in the Northern Province of Rwanda, Gihembe refugee camp was established in December 1997 to host survivors of the Mudende massacre. Today, 99% of the 12,300 refugees in Gihembe are survivors of this massacre.

UNHCR supports the Government of Rwanda by coordinating the refugee response in the country with MIDIMAR and protecting and assisting over 170,000 persons of concern who are living in six refugee camps, three transit centers, as well as in urban areas, including over 74,000 Congolese refugees and nearly 88,000 Burundian refugees. (End)