Rwanda expands refugee 'one-stop' care centers for rape victims

WNN Breaking

Students at Kigeme refugee camp Rwanda
Young teenage boy students sit together at the Kigeme refugee camp in the Nyamagabe District of southern Rwanda where a new ‘one-stop’ center has been opened to serve rape victims and those who have experienced sexual violence. Victims of violence of this nature can include males as well as females. As the ‘one-stop’ centers in the Rwanda refugee camps expand advocates for those who have experienced rape hope that sensitivity and greater awareness among all players about gender based violence will also improve. Image: F. Noy/UNHCR

(WNN) Kigali, RWANDA, EASTERN AFRICA: To curb continuing cases of rape violence in Rwanda’s refugee camps, the government of Rwanda along with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is now establishing what has been termed the new ‘one-stop’ centers that will bring both police security and health care staff together in one place together to work in the prevention of and medical response to sexual violence.

Inaugurated first in the Kigeme refugee camp in Nyamagabe District and the Mugombwa camp in Gisagara District the one-stop centers have been set to not only serve victims of sexual violence inside the camps, but victims that face rape outside the camps in local communities as well.

Among the services provided at the centres are trauma counseling, justice system services and medical services.

Outgoing UNHCR representative Neimah Warsame said among the reasons for partnering with government and handing over the centres is to ensure their sustainability.

“The government has proven to be committed in refugee affairs to ensure that their welfare is taken care of and they live dignified lives,” Warsame said.

“With the partnership, we sought to put up centres that are not only for refugees use, but the entire community. With that the centres have gained support and already have impacts.”

Warsame said some of the impacts are an increase in the reporting of gender-based violence incidents since refugees are now aware of the procedures and processes involved.

At the occasion of inaugurating the One-stop-centre in Kigeme and Mugombwa the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Seraphine Mukantabana, said the set up of infrastructure dedicated to the prevention and fight against gender-based violence in refugee camps was a testimony of commitment by stakeholders to fight the vice.

“Drawing from the experience we got from Gihembe camp where the first facility was established last year, we have started observing a trend of positive change in reducing GBV, domestic crimes and other forms of violence in the camp,” Mukantabana said.

She said the refugees, too, have a role to play in preventing gender-based violence and eradicating other security threats within their community.

“Your contribution in security management of the camp and violence prevention is still a must,” the minister told the refugees.

Commissioner of Police Bruce Munyambo commended the initiative to establish those facilities describing them as effective tools to fight GBV and other. He also affirmed the commitment of Rwanda National Police utilize the facilities fully for purposes of refugee and residents protection.

Operational framework Memorandums of understanding were signed between the parties, highlighting the role and responsibilities for the use of the one-stop centres to be established into all refugee camps in Rwanda.

UNHCR’s liaises with the government and provide overall leadership role in accordance with its mandate and lead other implementing partners.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs is the line ministry on behalf of the government. Its role is to ensure that in the long run, refugees are fully protected against gender-based violence with the existing system as well as manage and maintain constructed infrastructure.

District officials facilitate the acquisition of required documentation for infrastructure development so as to accelerate the construction works.

The agreements also note that upon completion of the construction, UNHCR hands over the centres and their management to government.