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DRC: Refugees protest harsh living conditions in Goma

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Burundian, Ugandan and Rwandan refugees on Monday demonstrate in front of the offices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Goma in the north Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They demanded the improvement of their conditions especially in this period of health crisis due to the coronavirus.

Protesters also stormed the office of NGO AIDES to attract the attention of the international community.

“They don’t tell us anything. During this period of the coronavirus, children have diarrhoea because of famine, they gave us medicine …Is paracetamol food? Let them give us food and medicine. The government knows that a refugee has the right to eat, if they can’t stand us any more, then they should burn us instead of starving us to death’‘, said Burundian refugee, Aline Nsabimana.

For Rwandan refugee, Habimana Daniel, “If you see us here, it’s because of the famine, we’re not here to make war, we’re only here because of the famine. We were told that there would be money and food, but among us, no refugee has received even a cent of Congolese francs, or a portion of food, we really have nothing.”

The Congolese authorities have expressed their concern. Akilimali Descartes is the Commissioner General for Humanitarian Affairs in North Kivu. He said an urgent meeting has been scheduled to find a solution.

“As soon as we learned that there is a demonstration at the AIDES offices , I called the head of the CNR office. We tried to talk about it, I think that tomorrow (Tuesday)I will convene a meeting within 48 hours so that we can find a common ground, how are we going to be able to give palliative solutions to the claims made by these refugees who are here with us’‘, Descartes said.

These refugees are now living in Goma in the DRC in rented houses that they would no longer be able to pay for due to lack of assistance.

Most of them have been in the DRC for more than 20 years and accuse the UNHCR, which they say has never begun the process of repatriation to their respective countries. They have appealed to the international community for help.

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