The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) in collaboration with the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNCHR) has finalized its relocation of all Congolese refugees from Nkamira Transit Centre to Kigeme Camp.
The Transit Centre, which is initially a temporary source of accommodation for returnees, has hosted over 20,000 Congolese refugees fleeing the recent conflict in the DRC. Although it was not declared, at the height of the influx in May this year, Congolese refugees were received on a prima facie principle. This meant that their need to be accepted as refugees was evident upon their arrival and thus they were directly registered as such.
However, as the number of Congolese refugees crossing into Rwanda has reduced dramatically to 1 or 2 people per day, MIDIMAR will now be receiving incoming Congolese refugees at their headquarters in Kigali, where they will be requested to carry out the ordinary process of applying for the refugee status as other asylum seekers.
This is not to say that reception activities at the border with Rubavu have come to a complete stop.
“We are aware that although it is calmer now, the situation in the DRC is still fragile. In case the situation changes and there is a new influx of Congolese refugees, MIDIMAR will receive them at Nkamira Transit Centre and attend to them as we did before,” Permanent Secretary, Antoine Ruvebana stated.
Mr. Ruvebana also added it is clear that of the few incoming Congolese refugees, many come to visit or rejoin their families and therefore do not reflect the characteristics of a refugee. This, he explained, is what spurred the decision to transfer all Congolese refugees’ cases to Kigali where they will declare and defend their need to be protected as refugees. From this point MIDIMAR will transport them to their host camp and assist them depending on their individual needs.
MIDIMAR and UNCHR began transferring Congolese refugees form Nkamira Transit Centre to Kigeme Camp on 10 June 2012 and completed this exercise on 3 September 2012.
Kigeme camp now hosts 14, 045 refugees, while the remaining 6,000 have rejoined their families in other camps around the country or have found their own accommodation.