UNICEF Rwanda Mid Year Report

AUGUST 2, 2017 Daniel Weiner

UNICEF just released a mid-year situation report with some significant updates on the Burundian Refugee Crisis. There are now 86,600 Burundian refugees living in Rwanda. 54,207 of those refugees live in the center of REST’s operations, Mahama Refugee camp. Most of the 30,000 other refugees are living in Rwanda’s two largest cities: Kigali and Huye. A number of UNICEF’s goals for 2017 in health and sanitation, nutrition, early childhood development, and child protection remain unmet. There is a million-dollar aid funding gap, predominantly for basic sanitation and access to water and nutrition. On a more positive note, education has received adequate funding and has already met UNICEF’s targets for 2017.

The lack of basic services for Burundian refugees remains troubling. As UNICEF mentions in its report, its aid is solely focused on life-saving interventions and basic social services. We at REST hope that these targets are met by UNICEF’s end of year report.

 REST works with refugees to try and fulfill similar needs. REST helped contribute to refugee education outcomes in our own small way by sponsoring two girls at Mahama to attend a local high school. We strive to address gaps in UNICEF’s strategy. While UNICEF is focused on basic service provision – and rightly so – REST aims to empower refugees and provide them with the skills, opportunities and support to achieve economic independence.  Our model complements UNICEF’s service-provision strategies by creating pathways for refugees to build towards sustainable development. For example, REST’s Tabita Project is continuing to provide a sustainable income and restore agency to members of a sewing collective.

In the next year, REST will continue its dialogue with Burundian refugees to evaluate future target areas for projects and to expand existing ones. In 2017 we plan to expand our operations from the community of Mahama to include urban refugee populations. Our team at REST will release an annual report of operations and a vision for the upcoming year in January of 2018. This annual report will include findings of REST’s field visit in December 2017 and supportive supervision that has been on-going throughout the year.