Focusing on the theme of ‘Hope Away from Home, World Refugee Day this year showcases how refugees and other displaced populations have been included and able to rebuild their lives.
To mark the occasion, UNHCR in Rwanda held an event at Norrsken House in Kigali in collaboration with the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA). During the event, refugees from across Rwanda came together to share their stories of hope which they have gained through education, employment, entrepreneurship, and being included in their local communities.
In the presence of the Minister of MINEMA, ambassadors of donor countries, UN agencies, NGO organizations, the Rwandan public and refugee communities, the event held on 20th June 2023, brought together various sectors of Rwandan society to showcase the different opportunities refugees have been granted and have benefited from while in Rwanda.
As part of a collaboration between Rwandan and refugee artists, the event also featured an art exhibition highlighting both challenges and solutions that refugees have found in Rwanda.
“This World Refugee Day, we heard testimonies from refugees who are doctors, entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, and community representatives. From Kiziba refugee camp to Kigali, refugees across Rwanda are thriving. It is our role to ensure that such opportunities reach a wider selection of the refugee population and create increased hope for the future,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Rwanda, Mrs. Aissatou Ndiaye.
Speaking at the event, Minister of MINEMA, Marie Solange Kayisire, noted that the long-term aspiration of the Rwandan Government is to ensure that refugees living in the country are able to realize their productive potential as self-reliant members of the society, equipped to improve their livelihood and contribute to economic development of the country.
“We are doubling efforts to increase job prospects as well other economic opportunities to address unmet refugee needs, and continue to empower them to be self-reliant,” the Minister said.
Rwanda currently hosts over 132,000 refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced populations.
This includes over 7,600 new arrivals fleeing Eastern DRC since the beginning of the year. In Rwanda, refugees have access to national systems such as education, health, and can be employed on par with Rwandan nationals.
Despite these developments, challenges remain with 87 percent of refugees in Rwanda classified as highly vulnerable and dependent on humanitarian assistance.
Together with partners and the Government of Rwanda, UNHCR is dedicated to changing this situation and increasing the self-reliance of refugees through development programmes. With decreasing funding for the refugee response, World Refugee Day this year, comes at a critical time to renew commitments towards supporting refugees in Rwanda.
UNHCR in Rwanda continues to call for solidarity and responsibility sharing from the international community, not only for those UNHCR protects but also for Rwanda as a host country given the social and economic impact of hosting refugees.