UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s, Patron for Maternal and Newborn Health Princess Sarah Zeid visited the Gihembe Refugee Camp situated in Gicumbi District in the Northern Province of Rwanda.
The camp hosts more than 13,300 Congolese refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who have been in the camp for more than 20 years.
Princess Sarah met and held discussions with refugee women on the daily challenges they face. She witnessed first-hand the many unmet needs in the areas of health and nutrition, as well as the poor state of the shelters, lack of energy and lighting posing serious protection issues, especially for women and girls.
This is Princess Sarah’s second visit to Gihembe Refugee Camp, her first was in 2016: “During my visit of refugee camps in Rwanda two years ago – when I went to Gihembe and Mahama camps – I saw the challenges and gaps that needed to be addressed to ensure that physical and protections risk faced by refugees face can be diminished. I was deeply saddened to see that the situation of the refugees living in Gihembe has remained unchanged or worse, has deteriorated.”
During the focus groups discussions, she noted that the main issues raised were health and nutrition, lack of lighting in the camp, alternative solutions to cooking energy, lack of livelihood opportunities and lack of child friendly spaces.
Princess Sarah visited the maternity ward and a nutrition centre in Gihembe camp, where she met healthcare workers, pregnant women and mothers with newborns.
“Main reasons for this worsening conditions are the lack of available resources and funding. Needs and challenges are augmenting while resources are shrinking”, said UNHCR’s Representative, Mr. Ahmed Baba Fall
Princess Sarah expressed her appreciation to the Government of Rwanda for its hospitality, close partnership with UNHCR and for the support they continue to provide to the more than 150,000 refugees living in the country.