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With resilience young people in refugee camps forge new paths to prosperity

Each year on 20th June, the world celebrates World Refugee Day, the international day to honor people who have been forced to flee and seek asylum in other countries due to various reasons including protecting their security.

It was a day dedicated to commemorating the 51st anniversary of the adoption of the Refugee Convention, an international agreement concerning protecting refugees worldwide.

The convention addressed crucial issues such as ensuring that every refugee, regardless of their background, has the right to seek asylum in countries that have welcomed or accepted them, without being penalized or sent back to their home countries.

The agreement also emphasized the importance of providing refugees with opportunities for education, employment, and self-sustainability.

41% of refugees are young people

The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reports that currently, there are approximately 89.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, with 27.1 million of them being refugees under the age of 18, constituting 41% of the total.

As of March 2023, Rwanda is hosting 132,926 refugees in various camps, including Kiziba in Karongi District, Nyabiheke in Gatsibo District, Kigeme in Nyamagabe District, Mugombwa in Gisagara District, and Mahama in Kirehe District. Around 60% of these refugees are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.

Additionally, there are other refugees residing in urban areas such as Nyamata, Kigali, and the Gashora ETM Center, accommodating 808 individuals.

Young refugees on employment opportunities

As a recognized humanitarian country, Rwanda has implemented various development projects in collaboration with different partners, aiming to improve the welfare of refugees and Rwandans.

The “Jya Mbere” initiative, in partnership with the World Bank, has invested 80 billion Rwandan Francs to promote the socio-economic well-being of these individuals by establishing infrastructure, water systems, roads, and schools, and supporting entrepreneurial ventures.

To support these initiatives, the Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) has allocated 2.4 billion Rwandan Francs from a total budget of 6.3 billion Rwandan Francs. These funds have already been disbursed to benefit 5,818 individuals, with the project expected to be completed by 2026.

The new market in the camp has been leveraged by young people

Furthermore, it is a requirement that financial support should prioritize creating job opportunities for refugees so that they can become economically self-sufficient. Many refugees have already been employed.

In Gatsibo District, Kanamugire Innocent received a grant of 9 million Rwandan Francs for his agricultural and livestock project. He also aims to secure an additional 18 million Rwandan Francs.

Siblings, Nyiramugisha Clementine and Rugamba Didier, who fled from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now reside in Nyabiheke Camp have benefited from Kanamugire’s success story. They have been able to secure employment.

Kanamugire Innocent is one of the young people with an entrepreneurship mindset

Nyiramugisha said, “I witnessed them providing jobs here, and they even gave me one. I work every day. The money I receive helps me support my parents, and the remaining amount, I save because I plan to start my own business soon.”

Her brother, Rugamba, added, “Apart from the financial assistance, the job I received came with educational opportunities, which align with my desire to pursue entrepreneurship in the future.”

Nyiramugisha has dreams to be her own employer

In addition to these success stories, Edie Patrick Gakara, the director of a rice manufacturing industry in Gatsibo District, requested funding of 1 billion Rwandan Francs from “Jya Mbere,” with 300 million Rwandan Francs already granted. They are also seeking an additional 1.5 billion Rwandan Francs, which is crucial for their progress.

Within the 80-person workforce, Shema Anastase and Umutoni Sifa, working in Kigeme Camp, stand out. They relocated from the Congolese province of North Kivu, specifically from Masisi.

Shema shared, “My life has completely changed. It has been a year since I joined this job. I am now a young man, and I witness the great things we, as young people, can accomplish. I dream of progressing further and having a prosperous future for my family in the camp.”

Yoboka believes that as young people, they have to take advantages of every opportunity

Umutoni, responsible for testing all refugees for HIV, expressed her gratitude, saying, “This project has given me a chance to thrive. I can now afford a decent living. After six months, I plan to venture into business.”

Mugera Market, worth 489 million Rwandan Francs, has been established in Gatsibo District. Idrissa Yoboka, who arrived in Rwanda in 2005, seized the opportunity to become an influential market trader despite being a former soldier.

He stated, “I have been granted a life-changing opportunity. In the market, there are numerous employment opportunities. As an enterprising young man, I wanted to make progress. I pursued an education but never got the chance to secure a job or start a business.”

“If given a loan of 60 million Rwandan Francs, I would not disappoint; I would return it promptly. I value my family and want to provide for their needs.”

He is committed to step in his father’s shoes

In pursuit of Education

These students believe they can change their lives with education

Everywhere refugees settle, they face various challenges when it comes to accessing education. However, efforts have been made to address this issue and ensure they regain their rightful place in schools.

Alliance Uwizeye, a senior student at G.S Mugombwa, a school hosting 2,230 refugees from Congo and 1,526 local students, believes in their potential to thrive like other Rwandans.

As a third-year student majoring in English and Computer Science, She said, “I have the opportunity to study and secure a better future for myself and my family. That’s why I attend school here. I aspire to become a leader or engage in other professions that contribute to the development of our country.”

He believes he has a second chance to do better and get better

Her friend, Gashema Esperant, who attends Don Bosco Nyamagabe Technical Secondary School, emphasized the importance of learning practical skills to support his family’s progress since they have gone through hardships.

He stated, “The world is moving toward knowledge-based economies, and it’s essential to acquire skills that are in demand. We, the youth, have a lot to offer. We should maximize the opportunities the government provides and show determination in pursuing our education and becoming self-reliant.”

They are learning technical skills since they are in high demand on the market
Young women are encouraged to pursue these skills
She aspired to empower her family after her studies

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