The Minister of Disaster Management and Refugees Hon. MukantabanaSeraphine and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative Dr. Saber Azam inaugurated two new durable health clinics for Mahama Refugee Camp in Eastern Province, which will serve over 50,000 refugees from Burundi currently living in the camp as well as new arrivals.
As the camp is split into two administrative units, UNHCR with its partners American Refugee Committee (ARC) and Save the Children constructed two health centers serving MahamaI and Mahama II, with support from the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and European Commission Department for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection. Representatives of the Ministry of Health, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and country directors of ARC and SCI also participated in the ceremony with the Governor of Eastern province and Mayor of Kirehe.
"Strong partnership and commitment always produces lasting solutions. It is from actions like these that lives of refugees - people like you and I, are improved. The Government of Rwanda commits to work with our partners for continued positive change for refugees across our country," stated Hon. MukantabanaSeraphine.
Mahama Camp was opened by MIDIMAR and UNHCR in April 2015 and rapidly became the largest of Rwanda’s six refugee camps within only a few months. Today, MIDIMAR and UNHCR coordinate the refugee response which includes a range of UN and both international and local NGO actors who provide critical services in all sectors ranging from protection and education to health, water and shelter among others.
UNHCR delivers primary healthcare for all refugees with ARC and SCI and ensures access to secondary and tertiary care through support for national hospitals. When the camp opened, UNHCR with ARC immediately established a health center in the camp however this was built with emergency structures which after a year and a half required upgrading to more durable and dignified structures which can be used by the host community as well.
ARC was the first health partner when Mahama Camp was opened in April 2015, providing primary health care services including In Patient Department, Outpatient Department and Maternity services. Slowly other services such as HIV program, Maternal Child Health, Antenatal Care, Vaccination, Mental health and Nutrition (management of acute malnutrition) were introduced. With the camp expanding rapidly during the course of 2015, SCI came on board in August 2015 and constructed a second health facility in Mahama II to provide lifesaving primary health care services.
In December 2015 SCI has upgraded the health post into a health centre to scale up its health capacity to meet needs of more than 25,000 refugees living in that section of the camp. Today UNFPA is also providing much needed equipment to support the health facilities.
“On behalf of all actors engaged in supporting the Government to respond to the needs of refugees, I am proud that the health response in Mahama was well coordinated, of good quality, and that key humanitarian standards were respected,” said Dr. Azam.
“Thanks to the generous support of donors, UNHCR had a budget of USD 47.1 million for its Rwanda operation in 2016 and our health response could not have been possible without the dedicated support of key donors including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and European Commission Department for Humanitarian Affairs.”