UNHCR inacurrate statement about the DRC Participation in the Global Refugee Leaders Forum Summit in Geneva

How do we address UNHCR controversial information about refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo as we approach the Global Refugee Summit? What does UNHCR gain by giving inaccurate information?

All these refugees are not yet recognized, they were born and grew up in DRCongo, this was during a weeding of a refugee young girl in Goma recently

As we all know, UNHCR in the Democratic Republic of Congo talks less about refugees, even in her social media Facebook and Twitter accounts, the attention is often put on Internally Displaced Persons. As UNHCR prepares for the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva this December 2023, UNHCR in the Democratic Republic of Congo has made only one public statement and this was in response to our call for demonstrations in Goma over the exclusion of DRC in this Forum.

Still despite the availability of the information online about this summit still UNHCR Goma did not give us and to the public accurate information, here is what the UNHCR representative indicated after the audience with the Mayor of Goma “I can assure you that DRC will not be absent to this Summit, we are working closely with the Minister of Internal Affairs”.

Before even we move on other things let us understand UNHCR in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is based on our analysis and observations.

Can UNHCR be a credible source of information about refugees in DRC? No, UNHCR is much contested by refugees especially in the Eastern part of DRC, actually testimonies of refugees indicate and show that UNHCR is part of various violations of refugee rights in support to Rwanda mainly. UNHCR does not have partners specialized in refugee issues particularly and with the public UNHCR is more known as working on IDPs. That is why even UNHCR cannot give credible statistics about refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lack of collaboration between UNHCR and actors of the Civil Society in DRC makes it difficult for UNHCR to access to information about refugees.

Does UNHCR have a human resource that can address the challenges of refugees in DRC?

No, in most cases UNHCR staffs in DRC do come for career purpose, they want to make money and then go, and this the whole debate is on their safety, the risks management, the administrative costs rather than how to serve people. UNHCR staffs are either perceived as connected to Rwanda especially in the Eastern DRC, residing in Rwanda or linked to Rwanda especially staying in Rwanda during the weekends, some refugees believe even that some UNHCR staffs in DRC are actually Rwandans and again Tutsis who are used as spies against Hutus refugees.

Can what UNHCR defines as key priorities draw her closer to refugees in DRC?

No, the priorities of UNHCR in the Democratic Republic of Congo lies of the forced repatriation of refugees back to their countries, Rwandan refugees claim to be the main victims of this policy. This alone has distanced refugees from UNHCR, and in most cases UNHCR is considered as a problem but not as an opportunity for protection. Curious despite the fact that UNHCR in some cases has even recognized that Rwandan refugees do not want to be repatriated, but still UNHCR is highly involved in the repatriation process which makes it more to appear as more close to Rwanda.

Now let us go back to the Global Refugee Forum Summit

Through our various advocacy actions and pressure, finally UNHCR Goma came out on this issue. However this Summit is supposed to be public and UNHCR is supposed to ensure that all the stakeholders are informed and involved. But still at this time UNHCR Goma misses the opportunity to appear as a credible institution and again here the quality of the human resource is put on taste. We observe the same sweeping statements from the United Nations claiming about the sole responsibility of the state even insisting that we should engage our government.

Questions remain here:

Why should UNHCR Goma wait that some of us threaten to organize marching to her offices in order to inform the public about this great Summit? Is it really the work of us Civil Society to remind UNHCR about her mission towards refugees in DRC? Why should UNHCR deliberately decide to give half of the information? Why should UNHCR in Goma opt for the defensive approach on issues that are actually under her mandate? What does UNHCR Goma benefit in denying of her responsibility towards her roles to ensure the effective representation of DRC in the Global Refugee Forum Summit? Who is actually the beneficiary of this denial approach? How long will such approach hold?

Very soon in few days the Summit will start and we are still waiting for the effective representation of DRC, if this does not happen what would UNHCR Goma do? With no consultations what will the DRC Delegation present as key issues about refugees?

On the other way around

What does UNHCR loses if efforts were put in place to ensure the effective participation of DRC in this Summit? Which interests are behind the absence of DRC and who are the beneficiaries? And again the same questions remain, how long will UNHCR Goma stand for such negative policies?

Lastly even our golden opportunity to raise this issue in order to give UNHCR a gateway to address it and argue that it was a response to the campaign from actors of the Civil Society, still UNHCR Goma does not seem to jump on such opportunity. How long will this war between UNHCR and the Civil Society last? And how does the approach of radicalization drive protection to refugees?

Can UNHCR staffs in Goma dissociate themselves from political positioning which appears to benefit to Rwanda on issues of refugees in eastern DRC? What may happen if UNHCR stops to implement a pro-Rwanda policy towards refugees in DRC?

Any way we shall evaluate all these after the Summit and actions will be determined.


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