The Minister of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs has said they will soon hold meetings with refugees living in Rwandan camps to devise ways in which refugees can start their own income-generating businesses, which could be financed as a way of reducing dependency on aid.
Seraphine Mukantabana said this last week in Mahama refugee camp while commissioning new health facilities.
There are about 163,000 refugees in six refugee camps in Rwanda and these include: namely Mahama camp in Kirehe District , Kiziba camp in Karongi District; Mugombwa camp in Gisagara District ,Nyabiheke, Gihembe, Kigeme camps in Nyamagabe district.
Mukantabana told Burundian refugees in Mahama camp that they should start thinking of income generating activities they can do since new strategies have been developed to finance them in order to reduce dependency on aid.
“We are looking at all possible ways to improve refugees’ lives, and economically empower you by training you to be job creators,” Mukantabana said.
She said that strategies being developed can focus on ‘made in Rwanda initiative’ in which refugees can make products that can generate income.
“You can form cooperatives and get finance to run projects you will have started. The products can be sold locally or exported and thus generate revenues. We will partner with the trade and industry ministry, private sector and UNHCR so that refugees get start-up capital and get trained in various skills,” she added.
Mukantabana, also revealed that they have received proposals from different sponsors and NGOs on projects that can be carried out by refugees.
“A refugee gets Rwf6,300 per month for upkeep but if they have their own income generating activities they can earn more than that. This will improve their lives to a better level. They can make shoes, tailor clothes, make handcrafts while others can starts businesses such as shops among many others,” she stressed.
Family Nsengiyumva , one of Burundian refugee who used to be driver and mechanic when he was still in Burundi, told Sunday Times that he has 8 children and a wife but is struggling to look after his large family in the camp.
“Wood or charcoal which is provided for cooking lasts only a week while food can only take us for 2 weeks yet these supplies are supposed to last a month. It is very difficult because our children can only eat once a day. They have become weak and some who cannot endure the situation; don’t want to go to school. That is why we need jobs, we need income generating projects from which we can earn our own money,” he said
According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative Dr. Saber Azam, there is need of diversified ways of empowering refugees including access to education and helping them to create jobs.
“The camp can now access health facilities, schools and have shifted from tents to roofed houses. However, more needs to be done. We will continue to support them with job creation,” he said.
The UN refugee agency says it needs $64. 2 million to satisfy the needs of the camp and only $21.2 million; (equivalent to 33 per cent) was raised by December last year
The US remains the largest donor for refugees, which has given out $3.8 billion in 2016 for humanitarian and refugee affairs, more than the 2.5 billion provided in 2015.