Death toll of Congo refugees rises to 11 in Rwanda, says UNHCR

Tuesday February 27 2018

Congolese refugees in Gihembe Refugee Camp in northern Rwanda. UNHCR says the number of Congolese refugees killed on February 22, 2018, during a food protest in western Rwanda has risen to 11. FILE PHOTO | NMG


The number of Congolese refugees killed on Thursday during a food protest in western Rwanda has risen to 11, the United Nations refugee agency has said.

Rwanda National Police had reported Friday that five refugees had died and 20 others injured after its officers moved into the UNHCR offices to evict refugees who were staging a sit-in.

The refugees from the Kiziba camp were protesting a reduction in food rations that began in January.

UNHCR said eight refugees died in Karongi town and another three at the Kiziba camp.

Many others were injured including police officers.

“This tragedy should have been avoided and the disproportionate use of force against refugees is not acceptable,” UNHCR said in a statement on Monday.


The agency said it was "shocked and disturbed" by the loss of refugee lives and called on the authorities to "refrain from use of force and to investigate circumstances of the tragic incidents." 

UNHCR said it would resume work on Tuesday after reporting calm in the Kiziba camp.

The camp hosts more than 17,000 Congolese refugees.

Rwanda is home to more than 173,000 refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi in six camps in the country of whom over 100,000 are Congolese.

UNHCR said humanitarian assistance in Rwanda remains "severely underfunded" which led to the decision by World Food Programme to reduce food assistance by 10 per cent in November last year and by 25 per cent in January.

The agency said its 2018 appeal for $98.8 million to support refugees in Rwanda is only is two per cent funded, while WFP warned of more food ration cuts if its $2.5 million monthly spend is not met.