Government, through the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midmar), has embarked on a campaign to improve environmental health and sanitation in areas where thousands of Rwandans who were recently evicted from Tanzania have been temporarily settled.
Most of the evictees, who were kicked out of their homes in the Kagera Region in Tanzania, are hosted at Kinazi Camp in Kirehe District.
The Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs minister, Seraphine Mukantabana said this as she joined the returnees and residents in surrounding villages, in a communal cleaning exercise, Umuganda on Saturday.
Helping returnees settle
It was observed that the large numbers of people who arrived in the country in just a short time and are camped in one area makes the community susceptible to environmental hazards.
The displaced people include children and the elderly, who need critical attention in this kind of environment, she observed.
According to officials, Midmar will deal with the environmental health issues, by availing safe water, sanitation and proper waste disposal facilities.
Mukantabana said government was prepared to deal with issues pertaining to environmental health management in returnees’ camp.
“We are doing everything to help the returnees get accustomed to the new environment…by cutting bushes around the camps, we are taking precautions to check serious problems related to vector-transmitted diseases,” she said.
The Governor of Eastern Province, Odette Uwamariya, spoke of the need to regularly conduct Umuganda in the camp, noting that returnees will be helped to settle.
“Umuganda concept is new to the returnees...they will, thus ,learn from the experience as time goes on. We want to remain close to them, especially during these difficult times t. We are also working with stakeholders to help them access properties they were forced to leave behind,” she said.
The Mayor of Kirehe District, Protais Murayire, said the returnees need special care, adding that the majority are children.
“At least 75 per cent of the returnees in the camps are children. In fact, the active group is very small, which is why we should keep a close eye on them because of their vulnerability. They are, however, cooperative and easy to serve,” he said.
Kinazi camp hosts 2,600 returnees of the over 5,000 who were evicted from Tanzania, some of them having lived there for over six decades.