Burundi refugees in Mahama camp prefer food to cash donations

Published by Théophile Niyitegeka
On 27 October 2016 saa 08:35
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Burundi refugees accommodated in Mahama Camp have expressed worry over the decision of replacing food rations with cash saying it would breed mismanagement and family conflicts.

The move was recently adopted by the Government of Rwanda which saw the program launched in some refugee camps including Nyabiheke camp accommodating Congolese refugees.

Under the cash support program, each family member is supposed to receive Rwf 6300 for the family to buy desired foods.

The Ministry of Disaster and Refugee Management (MIDIMAR) plans to extend the program to more refugee camps. However, Burundi refugees accommodated in Mahama camp are worried that replacing food donations with money is likely to create family disputes emanating from utilization of the money.

Mbazumutima André, a Burundian refugee has told IGIHE that they prefer food rations as the money would tempt some recipients to divert it in buying alcohol and other items leaving some family members in starvation.

“Many of us like me need money but others are against the decision since some individuals would misuse the fund for drinks other than buying food,” he said.

Bigirimana Noella, another Burundian refugee said that cash donations would aggravate family disputes. Already, he said, there are cases where some family members have been clashing over selling food donations like beans and maize to buy brew.

The Minister of Disaster and Refugees Affairs, Mukantabana Seraphine has explained that donating money instead of food is meant to facilitate refugees vary food items.

“We have started replacing food donations by money in some refugee camps so that they can determine needs for their health by preferring desired food.This will as well solve the matter of requesting food variety” she said.

Minister Mukantabana said that they are seeking way of providing more money beyond the fund reserved for food so refugees can run other income generating projects facilitating them to meet other basic needs.

Rwanda accommodates 85,000 Burundi refugees who fled their country since May 2015, as political tensions rose Burundi following Nkurunziza’s bid to run for another term which sparked mass violence and left many citizens fleeing the country.

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Some of Burundi refugees accomodated in Mahama camp