10 Refugee Demands in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Global Refugee Forum Summit
Meeting with Refugee Community Leaders in Goma to join our call for effective participation of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the Global Refugee Forum Summit in Geneva in December 2023.
The meeting took place at our offices on Monday October 16th, 2023 started at 1pm. Despite the heavy rain that poured in Goma the whole day, five (5) refugee community leaders braved the rain and came, while other five (5) could not make it due to heavy rain.
The meeting was chaired by Kulihoshi Muisikami Pecos who briefed the participants about the Global Refugee Forum where as per now refugees, the host communities, local leaders, the civil society, the private sector and the DRC Government are still excluded from attending for reasons which are believed to be political.
On one side UNHCR in DRC seems to implement a policy from Rwanda Foreign Affairs Ministry which denies the existence of Rwandan Refugees by calling them “Economic migrants” while those in DRC are called genocidaires and FDLR rebels, also denying that there are genuine reasons why a section of Rwandan citizens cannot feel safe in Rwanda, on the other side UNHCR does not want to account for what happened to Rwandan refugees in DRC since 1994 up to now and for this reason the best options for UNHCR is to ignore the presence of these refugees and ignore their legitimate demands to seek for international protection.
More details were shared about the Summit and the participants were informed that even the Democratic Republic of Congo does not appear in the website of the Global Refugee Forum and nothing at all is found on the issues of refugees in DRC. The participants pledged to join our actions and promised to mobilize other refugees in all communities in order to create alternatives to make their voices heard.
The following demands were therefore once again formulated by the participants much as some of them have been submitted to UNHCR since 2021 when the UNHCR boss visited Goma- DRC.
- Identification and the registration of all refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1958 in general and in particular since 1994 up to now,
- Issue refugee documents to each person who is recognized refugee in DRC and stop calling these refugees the name of stateless,
- Create specific places of residence for each category of refugees in DRC which should be clearly known and respected as reserves for refugees in line with international standards,
- Ensure the physical protection of refugees especially to put to the end all forms of attacks from Rwandan Security Services against refugees in DRC,
- Ensure that each particular refugee has access to Humanitarian Relief Aid, it should be safe and should be provided by actors who are not perceived as partners or collaborator of Rwanda,
- To promote the durable solutions to refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
- To ensure that UNHCR and other humanitarian actors are independent from Rwanda and really work for the protection of refugees, remove UNHCR staffs who are viewed as Rwandans, residing in Rwanda, or connected to Rwanda security services, and ensure that UNHCR change her pro-Rwanda Policy towards refugees in DRC,
- Advocate for the change of the current refugee policy in DRC and the need to put in place trustworthy institutions that are not connected to Rwanda. As per now the DRC government body in charge of refugees was created by the rebels backed by Rwanda and most of the staffs were appointed by these pro-Rwanda rebels of RCD Goma,
- To end the utilization of refugees into political activities and military activities in DRC, but also in other countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, and Tanzania among others. Refugee are victims in search of protection, they are not political actors,
- To ensure that refugees especially genuine refugee community leaders do participate in the decision making and that their opinion may count, at the same time UNHCR and other actors should stop fabricating their own refugee leaders to serve their interests.
The participants then suggested among themselves those who will give testimonies in our various activities during this week, and also resolved to meet again on Friday this week with others in order to make a strong team of 10 people.
The meeting warned UNHCR against the tendency to bride, intimidate, blackmail and blacklist some vocal refugee leaders who are the voice of other refugee communities.
In his concluding remarks Pecos informed members that all our activities are not funded but that should not stop us from addressing the issues and called upon refugees to do some sacrifices in order to make their voices heard and refrain from being either bribed or intimidated by their enemies.
The meeting ended at 3pm, and the next meeting is on this coming Friday.