• Human Development

UN Women Supports Expellees

UN Women provides lifesaving dignity kits to Rwandan women, girls, disabled persons and the elderly

In mid-2013, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete ordered the deportation of 20,000 Kinyarwanda speakers, stating that, given the improvements in safety and security in their country of origin, ‘all Rwandans can safely return’. Some of the expelled Kinyarwanda speakers in Tanzania had been living in the country for decades, starting new lives and raising their families. Others were born and raised there, some of whom even possessed Tanzanian citizenship.

By October 2013, over 12,500 Rwandans had arrived in Rwanda from Tanzania. While some 7,600 people had been transported to their districts of origin, over 4,900 remained in transit centres in Kiyanzi and Rukara. Most of the expelled returnees crossed the border without their belongings, while some were able to leave their belongings with neighbours in the hope of being able to go back and collect them at a later stage. With help from Rwandan government institutions like the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), many more refugees have since been reintegrated with some degree of success in Rwandan communities. However, not all deportees were this fortunate, and as of April 2014, a number of Transit Camps are still occupied with expelled Tanzanians for whom adaptation to their new ‘home’ remains a daily struggle, while many of the reintegrated returnees are similarly struggling to meet their basic needs.

Several agencies within the One UN in Rwanda have since provided support to both the refugees in the transit camps, and the reintegrated returnees in the Eastern border Districts of Nyagatare, Kirehe, Ngoma and Bugesera. UN Women, the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, has been most concerned with the alleviated risk of violence against women in the transit camps.

Gender Based Violence (GBV) takes many forms, including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse as well as deprivation techniques (financial, legal, and psychological) designed to control and marginalize the victims. The perpetrators can be spouses, parents, siblings, and other members of the refugee community. The threat of GBV towards women and children is heightened significantly among refugees. In most cases refugee women are often confronted with culturally accepted gender roles that encourage inequality and submission to men. Victims are reluctant to come forward for a variety of cultural, financial and legal reasons.

UN Women started setting up a programme in 2013, which would ensure the provision of basic GBV risk mitigation and response services to female and male survivors of GBV at the Transit Centres. However, as the reintegration of returnees from the Transit Centres sped up, the needs of the reintegrated returnees changed, and UN Women has been focused on the immediate survival needs of women and girls. A number of districts have since received the following essential products to sustain women and their families:

  • Towel (Essuie)
  • Baby crib (Kigoma)
  • Soap (savon ordinaire),
  • Bucket (seau avec couvercle)
  • Baby body lotion (Vaseline 250g)
  • Fabrics

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