Statement on refugee demonstrations in Karongi
Early this week, Tuesday February 20, about 500 refugees in Kiziba Camp in Karongi District marched to the UNHCR offices and camped outside in protest over reduced food rations.
As the relevant local and international institutions came together to discuss and peacefully resolve the issue, Rwanda National Police (RNP) continued to monitor the situation to ensure that security prevails.
Efforts by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), UNHCR and local leaders , among others, to request the refugees to return to their camp as the issue was bieng resolved were met with strong resistance and protests.
This Thursday afternoon, following three days of sit-in at UNHCR premises, the demonstrations turned violent and Police intervened to calm down the situation. Violent demonstrators armed with stones, sticks and metal projectiles assaulted and wounded seven police officers. Police were forced to use teargas to disperse the rioters, protect and rescue officials, and secure the nearby communities.
Unfortunately, 20 rioters were wounded in the process, with five of them succumbing to injuries.
The injured Police officers and demonstrators were taken to Kibuye hospital where they are currently being treated.
Fifteen of the rioters have also been arrested for instigating the violence.
Most of the refugees have since returned to Kiziba Camp.
Rwanda National Police reminded the protestors that disruption of public order was unacceptable. The refugees were requested to respect the law, avoid unlawful demonstration and exercise calm as their issues are looked into by concerned institutions.