Clashes in Rwanda camp lead to tragic refugee death - UNHCR

Geneva, Switzerland (PANA) - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on Friday reiterated its call on the Rwandan authorities and DR Congolese refugees in Rwanda for restraint and calm, after recent clashes left one refugee dead and others injured at the Kiziba refugee camp in western Rwanda.

UNHCR said the full circumstances surrounding this incident are still unclear, but the death of the refugee followed a stand-off between the Rwandan National Police and a crowd of refugee youths last Tuesday. The refugee who died was injured and was taken to a district hospital in Kibuye, but succumbed to his injuries late the same day.

"We deplore this tragedy and have shared our sympathies with the family. We urge police and refugees to avoid any further confrontation, and peacefully resolve issues," UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said at a press briefing in Geneva.

UNHCR said over 17,000 Congolese refugees live in the camp with many having been there for more than two decades, while a significant number were born there.

Faced with dwindling assistance levels and food ration reductions as humanitarian funding levels have remained chronically low, residents began protests in February.

Mahecic said a previous clash on 22 February led to over 10 refugee deaths, left many others injured including members of the police.  

UNHCR said the Rwandan National Police had beefed up their presence in Kiziba with more personnel arriving there on 20 April.

It said this week’s confrontation reportedly began on 29 April when police used tear gas after being blocked by refugee youths. A 12 year old refugee boy was injured and is currently recovering in hospital. Another 23 refugees are reported to have been arrested, apparently for provoking Rwandan Police patrols.

"With the situation still tense, some refugees have indicated that they want to return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) out of desperation. UNHCR is urging them to make a properly informed decision and not one based on misinformation or rumours," Mahecic said.

He added that the continued confrontation has also hindered humanitarian access to Kiziba camp and UNHCR and its partners are struggling to provide support and assistance to the refugees.

"With our continued efforts to peacefully resolve the current situation, UNHCR is also advocating with donors to address the gaps in humanitarian funding and urgent needs of refugees," Mahecic said.

UNHCR’s 2018 funding appeal for US$98.8 million to support refugees in Rwanda is only is 13 per cent funded.
-0- PANA MA 4May2018

04 may 2018 11:49:57

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