Refugees may be having it tough, but they are not above the country’s laws

For the last couple of months, a well-orchestrated unrest has been disturbing the peace at Kiziba refugee camp, home to over 17,000 Congolese refugees

They fled their homes in eastern DR Congo and some have been refugees for as long as two decades. What began as protests over food cuts by the UN in February has degenerated into violence and open defiance of authorities.

Rwanda has been very welcoming to asylum seekers and gone out of its way to make them feel comfortable as much as it could. But that does not give them carte blanche to break the country’s laws.

But what really lies behind the unrest? Why is trouble breaking out at Kiziba camp in Western Province and not at its sister camp of Gihembe in Northern Province with whom they share the same lot?

One possibility of the reasons behind the deliberate creation of chaos is seeking to jump start their relocation to the West.

Over the years, refugees have been relocated to western countries, especially the United States. It is a slow process and many have been waiting for their turn and are restless. It is no wonder that the uprising was being steered by the refugees’ executive committee.

What is distressing is that in February when the incident first occurred, some refugees lost their lives when they attacked security officers who were trying to contain them. Whether it was a ploy to jump-start their relocation, it was not worth sacrificing young lives.

But as long as they are still the responsibility of the host state, they are expected to respect its laws just as others living on Rwandan territory do.

First Published by New Times Rwanda

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