Gihembe refugee camp census begins

GICUMBI - The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs is verifying the number of refugees at Gihembe camp in Gicumbi District.The camp is mainly composed of Congolese refugees who fled their country more than a decade ago over insurgencies in the eastern Congo.Officials from the ministry said the move was aimed at ascertaining genuine refugees resident in the country.

GICUMBI - The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs is verifying the number of refugees at Gihembe camp in Gicumbi District.

The camp is mainly composed of Congolese refugees who fled their country more than a decade ago over insurgencies in the eastern Congo.

Officials from the ministry said the move was aimed at ascertaining genuine refugees resident in the country.

“We have been relying on the 2008 figures. We discovered that some people impersonate refugees just to get benefits. This exercise will help us know who is a refugee and who is not,” Jean Claude Rwahama, the Director General in charge of refugee affairs in the Ministry, said.

Gihembe Refugee Camp is home to over 20,000 Congolese refugees.

The verification exercise, which will end mid-September also aims at finding ways of tackling food shortages and accommodation issues.

“Many people have been providing false figures on the number of people in their families,” Rwahama noted.

He added that the ministry, in collaboration with the World Food Programme, is doing its best to alleviate the present food situation.

“We intend to distribute maize flour. We have got better maize quality, in the meantime, we are lobbying for more funds to address the problem,” said Rwahama.

However, the refugees are still decrying food shortages, alleging that the seven kilogrammes of maize flour as part of their monthly rations is inadequate.

Rwahama further disclosed that both the Rwandan and Congolese governments are working closely to see the possibility of repatriating them as well as address the situation of food shortages.

Apart from Gihembe, there two other camps including Kiziba and Nyabiheke in Karongi and Gatsibo districts, respectively. The three camps contain over 54,000 Congolese refugees.

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