Education is the best strategy to cushion refugees against all forms of abuse, the UN High Commission for Refugees Country Representative, Neimah Warsame, has said.
Warsame, who was on Tuesday visiting Congolese refugees at Kiziba Refugee Camp in Karongi District, underlined the pressing need for education as a child protection priority in the camp.
She was accompanied on the field trip by Western Province Governor Celestin Kabahizi and the US Ambassador to Rwanda, Donald Koran.
“Education is the best strategy to protect children. It plays a central role in preventing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, early pregnancies, youth delinquency and empowers future generations,” Warsame said.
She said combating gender violence in camps remains a priority for all partners and reassured refugees of continued support.
Addressing refugees, Kabahizi reiterated government’s commitment to eradicating the vice.
He said government and its partners will continue to assist refugees to ensure that they come up with suitable solutions to prevent and respond to all forms of Gender-Based Violence.
“We want to break the culture of impunity. For that to be possible, you must stand up and speak against all abuses,” Kabahizi said, urging the refugees to embrace ‘akagoroba k’ababyeyi’ to discuss problems facing them and ways of addressing them.
Akagoroba k’Ababyeyi is an initiative that involves parents in local community to regularly meet during evenings to discuss challenges in their households and devise solutions.
Kabahizi called up on the refugees to report perpetrators of abuse.
Refugees expressed the need to facilitate teenagers to access vocational education or universities, saying most of them do not study beyond Senior Three.
The delegation launched a three-day training of trainers workshop that will see 30 refugees’ representatives trained to ensure refugees understand their rights and also empower them to fight abuse.
Amb. Koran announced that his government will increase its contribution to UNHCR by $1 million for refugee protection activities.
The contribution will grow from the current $3.6 million to $4.6 million provided through the US Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration, he said.
Amb. Koran said the additional funding will enhance access to food and clean water, hygiene services, health and nutrition services and prevention and response to GBV.
Kiziba Refugee Camp is home to more than 16,000 Congolese refugees. The camp, in an area of about 28 hectares, was established in 1996.