The first phase of construction of classrooms for Burundian refugee children in Mahama Refugee Camp in Kirehe District has started.
At least 60 classrooms and 49 pit-latrines are to be constructed in the first phase, at Paysannat L; a primary school in Mahama Sector located a kilometer from the camp.
The construction is estimated to cost Rwf 1.5bn, funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The project will be implemented by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA-Rwanda).
In an interview on Monday, Monica Tse Candido, the associate protection officer at UNHCR, said the agency is supporting the construction of more than 112 classrooms near Mahama camp for the refugee children.
“The school will serve both host community and refugee children,” she said.
The classrooms are expected to be ready by the end of December this year, according Samuel Ndayambaje, the in -charge of education at ADRA.
Ndayambaje said phase one of the construction works started last month and the second phase would start this month.
“This month, the second phase will start with construction of 50 classrooms, 50 pit-latrines and two girls’ rooms.
Students from Primary Four up to Senior Six will use the new classrooms, while others will be using makeshift classrooms until the construction for all phases is complete,” Ndayambaje said.
He added that at least 15,517 children of school-going age are registered in Mahama camp.
Currently, the children are undertaking a five –month induction programme to help them get acquainted with the Rwandan education system before starting schooling next academic year. Under this programme to end by December, the students learn languages, including English, French, Kinyarwanda and Kiswahili, as well as mathematics.
Burundian refugees’ number soars to 69,000
According to Jean Claude Rwahama, the director of refugee unit at Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), the number of Burundian refugees in Rwanda now stands at 69,000.
Although MIDMAR had projected to accommodate a smaller number, Rwahama said the Government could not limit the number of incoming refugees.
“The Government expected to accommodate at least 50,000 refugees. The number is obviously beyond what we expected. But when there are changes, new measures should be taken. Rwanda has done and is still doing its best to accommodate whoever flees into the country. Securing Burundians is our responsibility,” Rwahama said.
New measures in rainy season
Tse Candido said UNHCR is more concerned about the well-being of the refugees as the rains start.
“Health conditions are more likely to deteriorate during the wet season. We are currently moving refugees from tents to semi-permanent shelters and trying to build enough shelters to house some 44,000 refugees currently living in Mahama.
“We are also laying the foundation for a water supply system to cater for the refugees and local host population.
This is a heavy endeavor and it has proved challenging to dig boreholes in Kirehe,” Monica she added.
She said 30-50 Burundian refugees are received daily.