KARONGI — The Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) will soon stop paying school fees for children of Congolese refugees living in Rwanda, an official announced.
In an interview with The New Times, the JRS country director, Sr. Irene Guid, said the NGO is financially constrained to continue its education programme-due to increasing global humanitarian crisis especially in Africa.
“The decision was taken after we opted to allocate part of our funds to other most troubled refugees in different parts of the world,” she said, stressing that generally refugees in Rwanda are not suffering much compared to those in other countries like Sudan and Somalia.
“You know the level of suffering for refugees in Rwanda is low compared to other refugees in countries like Somalia and Sudan. We try to distribute the little funds we have mostly among those in critical conditions,” she said.
The JRS’s decision will affect students going beyond Ordinary Level (Tronc-commun). Some of the refugee parents who spoke to The New Times expressed fears that their children would drop out of schools.
“It is depressing. We are wondering where our ‘already’ troubled children are going if their access to education is gone?” Alex Rwabwije, a refugee parent wondered.
“All of them will go on the streets to become prostitutes and beggars. It is so absurd that this is a ‘double’ tragedy to us,” he added.
The JRS has been sponsoring all refugee children from primary up to secondary levels. The refugees appealed to the government to help them get other international donors that can take up the sponsoring- to save their children from dropping out of school.
There are about 18,400 Congolese refugees living in Kiziba refugee camp in Karongi district, while others are in Gihembe refugee camp in Gicumbi district. They were all displaced from their homes due to political instability.