Rwanda: New report highlights economic impacts of refugees in Rwanda

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) -  While, there is a sense, particularly in the United States and Europe, that refugees are a burden on local populations, the new approach of receiving cash aid that was applied in Rwanda reflects the fact that refugees interact with their local economy, says a new report released on Friday by the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The participatory research analysed data from two refugee camps in Rwanda, and found that an additional adult refugee receiving cash aid increases the real income within a 10-km radius around the camp by between US$205 and US$253 annually.

"Syrian refugee migration is of a different order of magnitude, of course, but the same key findings apply there as well as to the Congolese refugees in Rwanda,” said lead author J. Edward Taylor from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California-Davis.

However, the report noted that while the numbers in the report can’t be ascribed to the Syrian refugee situation in Europe and the Middle East, the general findings may apply.

“The worst-case scenario is to trap refugees in huge camps dependent on food aid, without the potential to interact and contribute to the economies around them,”Taylor was quoted in the report as saying.

Moreover, the IFPRI report found that the popular perception might be that camps house people who are helpless and dependent on food aid.

But, on the other hand, some recent studies reveal that refugee populations are actively engaged with host-country economies in an effort to improve their circumstances, it said.

During the survey, the World Food Programme (WFP) teamed up with researchers from the University of California, Davis, to examine impacts of three Congolese refugee camps in Rwanda on the surrounding host-country's economy.

The findings of the report also reflect the situation in three camps in Rwanda - Gihembe (North) and Nyabiheke (North East) at which refugees received cash and Kigeme (South) at which they received in-kind food aid.

"Economic spillovers result as refugee households and businesses inside the camps purchase goods and services from host country businesses outside the camps," the report said.

Another example is that camp workers spend income outside the camp and thus increase the demand for goods and services supplied by host-country farms and businesses, the report said.

Although the resettlement of refugees around the world takes different forms, ranging from isolated camps to nearly complete integration with host-country communities, IFPI researchers noted that in certain circumstances such as in Rwanda, refugees are free to interact with the host-country economy.

"Congolese refugees and Rwandans speak the same language (Kinyarwanda), and language and other human capital are important to the economic success of refugee immigrants," it said.

Estimates indicate that Congolese refugees in Rwanda appear to generate considerably more income than the cash aid they receive.

"Access to supplies of food and other commodities, along with the cash to interact with the local economy, are critical to refugee welfare and refugees’ potential to create benefits for the host country," its said.

This report is released at time a total of 262,027 Burundian refugees fleeing violence in their country have arrived in neighbouring countries, including Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), since last year's electoral violence in the Central African nation.

Some 76,404 Burundians fled to neighbouring Rwanda while Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are currently hosting 23,773 and 22,204 refugees respectively, according to the latest report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
-0- PANA TWA/MA 24June2016

24 june 2016 09:14:41

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