Jordanian Princess Sarah Zeid has made a case for women living in refugee camps, saying ensuring the welfare and development of women benefits the entire community.
Princess Zeid said this on Wednesday during her visit to Mahama Refugee Camp in Kirehe District where she, together with the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for protection and director of the division of international protection, Volker Türk, had gone to visit Burundian refugees living in the camp.
Zeid is a Goodwill Ambassador to the UNHCR and her specific areas of intervention are reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.
Addressing the refugees, the princess said the role of a woman in a family, the wellbeing of children and the community at large cannot be overestimated.
“Women are the pillars to our communities’ wellbeing and health. And so we came to speak about women’s participation, the leadership that is required from women, their willingness to use their voices to talk about the specific needs of course and women are the majority,” she said.
During the meeting, Türk said having the princess visit the refugees meant a lot in terms of ensuring their welfare, especially women and children.
It is over a year since the Burundian refugees, who number more than 85,000, have been living in Rwanda.
“We have unaccompanied minors here in Mahama camp, they require very special attention. They require specific response and I am delighted that the princess joined us, given her own work, especially on maternal and infant health, with her own experience and with network of support. I think it will help us put the spotlight on this situation,” he said.
Türk called for strong partnerships between various players to put the spotlight on the refugees’ plight to find the solution together.
Princess Zeid promised to advocate for the women refugees. “I will tell their stories, I will talk about their needs and issues,” she said.
Princess Zeid described the relationship between the Government of Rwanda and UNHCR as so positive, constructive and cooperative.
“It is exciting to see the livelihoods projects. I visited women [refugees] who were weaving the most beautiful things and to be able to have the dignity and to be able to use their skills is very exciting,” she said.
The Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Seraphine Mukantabana, said there is an improvement in the way they are accommodating refugees and they will continue accommodating them for better livelihood.
She said the Government ensures the children’s needs including food, going to school, have health care as well as their right to play and forget stresses in life.
Stressing the importance of the weaving project by women refugees in Mahama Camp, the minister noted that they are going to extend the initiative to the other camps through the livelihood strategy.
There are around 160,000 refugees in six refugee camps in the country and, apart from Mahama, the other camps are hosting Congolese refugees.
“It will be a huge project which needs more support both in funding and finding a market for the products that they will be making,” Minister Mukantabana said.
Commenting on her interest to visit Rwanda, the Princess said: “It is a relief to come somewhere that is so open and willing to welcome.”
Türk and Princess Zeid were in the country for an official visit from October 23. They left the country on Thursday.