Congolese refugees at Gihembe Refugee Camp may be relocated to pave way for the construction of Byumba Polytechnic Institute (IPB) campus, The New Times has learnt.
According to the campus management, the institute, which is currently using rented premises, may take over the Gihembe land which has been home to thousands of refugees for the past decade.
IPB management says they need more space to accommodate the growing number of students.
IPB was registered by the Ministry of Education in 2004 and got full accreditation last year. It is a community institution supported by both the Byumba Catholic Church and Anglican Church.
The institute which owns the land on which the camp is established has requested the government to move the refugees.
According to the rector of IPB, Prof. Faustin Nyombayire, the institute is now registering many students saying they need more infrastructure to accommodate them, an issue the education ministry promised to look into.
“The institute’s management said the matter has been forwarded to the government for approval. The issue will now depend on the cabinet, either to approve or look for another alternative,” he said.
According to officials from Gicumbi District, the issue is yet to be sorted out but plans are underway to amicably solve it.
“The place belongs to IPB, but the government is looking for a solution; the institute could be given somewhere else or the refugees moved, but it’s not easy to shift refugees,” said Fidele Byiringiro, the District Executive Secretary.
However, when contacted, the Director General in charge of refugees in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs, Jean Claude Rwahama, said his office had no knowledge of the matter.
“I have not yet received any notification about it, maybe discussions are still ongoing, but currently I can’t tell,” said Rwahama.