Kigeme Refugee Camp
Kigeme is a new habitat for refugees. UNDP is among the UN Agencies that are partnering with the government of Rwanda to provide primary assistance to Congolese who have fled to Rwanda. Today, just a few months after thousands of refugees have settled in the camp, a delegation headed by the UNDP Country Director had a chance to see how the community adapts to life in Kigeme, in a jointly organized visit with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).
Kigeme Refugee Camp is located in the Southern Rwanda. The visit intended to review the overall conditions in the camp and to come up with recommendations that will be implemented to improve these conditions. The overall conditions are reasonable but the new refugee camp is built on terraced steep hills separated by a busy road. The major concern is related to the approaching rainy season. Heavy rainfall will cause flooding and landslides due to the inadequate drainage systems. Additional concerns include the announced 25% reduction in food rations by WFP and lack of space for livelihood activities, particularly as the refugee population is not expected to return anytime soon.
Currently, Statistics indicate that 14, 000 refugees live in Kigeme Refugee camp. Many of these refugees are women and children. According to the latest figures, 40% of the refugee populations are children.
While touring the camp, the UNDP team can sense exhaustion amongst the people who come from an extremely volatile region, a part of the world that has been plagued by conflict for decades. Most of these refugees walked for days, were beaten, raped, lost dear ones before reaching the safety of the Kigeme camp.
Lying down in her empty room is Mukebwamanzi Justine, a mother of three. She gave birth to a baby boy two days ago and shakes her head when questioned about her life in DRC and how she is coping with the life as a refugee.
She says she hails from Gicanga. “It’s hard to get used to this life” she says. “Everything is limited. But we have learnt to accept this situation. We cannot change it and have to cope with it,” she added.
The woman fled the fighting in DRC with her children as the husband and 2 brothers had been killed. She still hopes one day she will return to her country. A few steps away, children are playing while young girls are preparing lunch. Others are washing clothes.