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Rwanda: How Are Refugees Surviving During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

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ALLAFRICA 16 APR 2020

As a country that hosts more than 150,000 refugees, Rwanda has stepped up efforts to address challenges in daily lives of those living in refugee camps amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the preventive measures taken to curb the spread of this virus in these camps, the Ministry of Emergency Management has put sufficient survival means for refugees at the forefront.

Alongside partners such as UNHCR and World Food Programme (WFP), the ministry says it has been able to avail essential services such as health, nutrition, water access, sanitation and hygiene to refugees all over the country.

With the pandemic wreaking havoc in the most advanced industrialised countries in the world, concerns are rising about a possible inadequate funding that could divert resources away from the neediest groups such as those in war zones and refugee-hosting states in the world.

However, Claude Twishime, the ministry’s communication’s officer said that they are working closely with different international organisations on a daily basis in helping refugees.

“For example, WFP is offering financial help. Refugees are sent money and they withdraw from mobile money agents who operate from the camps. They use this money to buy food among other essentials,” he said.

The ministry is also working towards ensuring that even refugees staying in different cities are also given aid in this period.

“We are also supplying them with requirements such as those that help in cooking such as gas and charcoal, this is done on the village level.”

Preventive measures

In a bid to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus, refugees are strictly following more specific preventive measures basing on the nature of refugee camps.

Twishime said that there are measurements that are being taken in regards to all refugee camps and the administration of all camps work closely with security bodies as well as refugees themselves in regards to implementation of the required precautions.

There are no visitors allowed in camps. Refugees are also not allowed to leave camps and on top of that, they are required to remain in their houses.

However they are able to access emergency services which are offered in the camps.

Market vendors are operating in camps but are also advised to follow preventive measures. Markets as well as camp entrances are equipped with hand-washing materials and everyone who enters is checked for any signs of COVID-19.

In addition to this, the administration of all camps is part of a District task force fighting coronavirus based in the areas where they operate.

MINEMA monitors the implementation of these strategies on a daily basis.

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