World, Africa

Camp housing nearly 10,000 refugees in Rwanda to be closed due to disaster risks

Up to 2,392 refugees transferred with others to be relocated by December, UNHCR says

James Tasamba   | 16.09.2021
Camp housing nearly 10,000 refugees in Rwanda to be closed due to disaster risks FILE PHOTO

KIGALI, Rwanda

A camp housing nearly 10,000 refugees in northern Rwanda will be closed due to disaster risk and aging infrastructure, the country’s Emergency Ministry and UNHCR said in a joint statement.

Set up in 1997, the Gihembe camp is home to 9,922 Congolese.

“The motive for this ongoing exercise [relocation] is to settle refugees in a better place given that Gihembe camp is located in a high-risk area and is affected by environmental hazards caused by erosion and ravaging ravines, with aging infrastructures,” the statement said.

Some 2,392 refugees have so far been transferred to Mahama camp in eastern Rwanda, and the remaining will be relocated by December, it added.

The Mahama camp was set up for Burundian refugees in 2015.

But, in June, Rwanda said over 27,000 Burundian refugees had been facilitated to voluntarily repatriate back to their country over the past year.

The refugees in the Gihembe camp have expressed worries over their relocation. However, the statement said that the relocated refugees will remain entitled to the same rights and package of assistance allocated to any other camp or urban refugees in Rwanda according to their vulnerability classification.

Last year, a group of more than 600 Congolese refugees were also relocated to Mahama camp from Kigeme refugee camp in southern Rwanda over environmental concerns.

The Central African country hosts about 127,000 refugees, including more than 48,000 from Burundi and over 77,000 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to official data.

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