KIGALI — Rwanda in collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is to close the Gihembe refugee camp in the Northern Province due to disaster risks and aging infrastructure.
A joint statement issued Thursday said the affected refugees will be relocated to Mahama camp in eastern Rwanda’s Kirehe district.
“The motive for this ongoing exercise (relocation) is to settle refugees in a better place given that Gihembe camp is located in a high-risk area and is affected by environmental hazards caused by erosion and ravaging ravines, with aging infrastructures,” the statement said.
Set up in 1997, Gihembe camp is home to 9,922 Congolese refugees living in 2,277 households. Some 2,392 refugees have already been transferred to Mahama, and the remaining families would be relocated by December 2021, according to authorities. Refugees who do not wish to be relocated to Mahama have been given the option to register as urban refugees.
Depending on their decision, relocated refugees are entitled to the same rights and package of assistance allocated to any other camp or urban refugees in Rwanda according to their vulnerability classification, the statement said.
The Central African country hosts about 127,000 refugees mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to UNHCR August data.