Interview with Pole FM Radio on the situation of refugees in line with the World Refugee Day

Interview with Nathalie a journalist from Pole FM Radio of Goma, on the situation of refugees in DRC as the World commemorates the World Refugee Day this June 20th 2024.

Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Goma, DRC

Pole FM Radio has keen interest in issues around migration and in particular refugees, we have always enjoyed their support in terms of expanding our activities and coming up to help the audience to know much about refugees.

We believe that this interview will touch the hearts and the conscience of so many people who listen to this radio, especially being the first to broadcast something about refugees in line with World Refugee Day.

Q/ With the Global Theme of the World Refugee Day 2024, do you think DRC has done something for refugees?

A/ No, actually in relation to this theme DRC should feel ashamed, I’m personally scandalized how we have abused refugees, everyone at all levels should feel ashamed to see that over the years we have abused refugees. However this World Refugee should be a reminder that we have not yet done enough to ensure that refugees are well treated in DRCongo.

Q/What are the problems refugees are facing in DRC, and how these problems been addressed?

A/ Refugees have so many problems, and I do not know where to start from but let me mention those which I think are the priority. Refugees are not identified and do not have refugee documents, they have no recognized places of residence, they do not have access to relief aid, they have been victims of various massacres and killings by Rwanda security services,….

No one has addressed refugee problems in DRC on contrary efforts have been put in place especially by UNHCR in order to make the situation of refugees worse, UNHCR has been part of the problems rather than being a solution. UNHCR has collaborated with Rwanda in order to send hundreds of refugees to Rwanda by force, UNHCR has helped Rwanda to know where refugees are hiding from in DRC, and UNHCR has helped the Government of DRC to take measures which are against the protection of refugees. We are the only one we have seen here in DRC working on the protection of refugees, but we also have serious challenges because no one wants to give us funding which we are part of that game of killing and exposing refugees to risks.

Q/ How many refugees are in DRC exactly?

A/ It is difficult to come up with the clear number because this should be the work of the Government, actually no one is interested even in the number of refugees, what we are observing is that people in UNHCR and CNR are interested in many in order to send these refugees to Rwanda, on ground that they are FDLR. We get this opportunity to protest against fake statistics of refugees in DRC produced by UNHCR and call upon UNHCR to remove these statistics and apologize to refugees. We believed DRC has about 4million refugees who scartered in the whole country among them at least more than 2million are living in eastern part of the country.

Q/ Is welcoming refugees can pose a security threats to the country especially to DRC?

A/ In some situations welcoming refugees can pose security risks to the country and especially to DRC in case these refugees are not well managed, as we have seen in DRC. So before even we speak about the danger posed by refugees, let us first of all speak about the refugee management. In in this situation of DRC has failed to put in place a proper refugee management. Both UNHCR and CNR are close to Rwanda in their ways of operating and in most cases their actions are against the interests of refugees, some of their staff members are perceived to be either Rwandans or just close to Rwanda. However let us also observe how the presence of refugees has been exploited by Rwanda in order to justify wars against DRC since 1996 up to now with the M23, and Rwanda is very clear, for Rwanda each Rwandan refugee here in DRC is FDLR fighter and should be crushed out, children, vulnerable women, elderly people, …all these are a danger to Rwanda and should be killed, surprisingly over the years UNHCR and CNR have never protested against this Rwanda’s approach.

Q/ There are refugees in Rwanda which Rwanda wants to bring here, and there were meetings in Nairobi, how far has this been achieved?

A/ First of all we protested against such political move and we are also concerned by such direction which is making refugees as political tools to be used in order to make political demands. The African Union Refugee Convention prohibits the exploitation of refugees for political motivation, and we are wondering why is the African Union silent. The Voluntary repatriation of refugees is should not be the task of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame is not the spokesperson for refugees in order to demand for their voluntary repatriation, we call upon refugees in Rwanda to distance from Kagame’s move and refuse to be used by Paul Kagame.

Q/ The United Nations Group of Experts have published a report showing that Congolese and no-Congolese refugees in Uganda were recruited in order to join M23 rebels, what should be done with this information?

A/ At least now the world is much aware about this, we denounced this since 2019 when we were still in Uganda and we paid a heavy price, most of us we alerted about the recruitment of refugees in Uganda were arrested, detained and later forced to leave Uganda, some went back to DRC which is not yet safe, others went to Kenya and others moved to South Africa, and unfortunately we did not get the support of the United Nations even UNHCR which is supposed to protect us kept silent. I think that it should be now time for the UNHCR to withdraw the refugee status to all those who are associated with war in DRC and who are based both in Rwanda and in Uganda, to freeze humanitarian relief aid to refugees in Uganda, to impose economic sanctions to Uganda, and impose individual sanctions to all those who were involved in the recruitment of refugees. But also at the same time to review all those who hold Congolese Refugee Status in Uganda, you saw how a member of M23 was granted the refugee status in Uganda and later was resettled to Canada where now he is leading the diaspora. The refugee status is for the protection of the victims but not an umbrella for actors to perpetuate crimes.

Q/ Now with all these issues what should be done in order to improve the situation of refugees in DRC?

A/ To improve? Who wants to improve the situation of refugees here, Anyway the DRC has now a new Minister of Internal Affairs he should make urgent changes in the Congolese National Refugee Commission, and put in place a new refugee law. Pressure should be put to UNHCR to change her policy towards refugees in DRC and at the same Civil Society Organizations should be able to access funding in order to advocate for change. We are advocating for the change of the current CNR staffs, and UNHCR staffs who are viewed as close to Rwanda, then we are now introducing a new refugee policy and we hope DRC will put in place refugee national plan.


Kukihoshi Musikami Pecos,

Human Rights Defender, specialized in the refugee rights in the Great Lakes Region, Coordinator of COKESKI North Kivu/ DRCongo

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