Physical protection of the environment in refugee camps is fundamental not only for the refugees’ well-being and security but also for good relations with the host community. In Rwanda, all the refugee camps are situated on hilly terrain with little vegetation and insufficient drainage facilities. In addition, the camps are overcrowded thereby further exacerbating the environmental challenges.
At present, the three old camps (Gihembe, Kiziba & Nyabiheke) face extreme environment degradation. Below are the main environment challenges affecting the three camps:
- Extreme soil erosion that has led to creation of gullies and ravines ;
- Insufficient drainage facilities;
- Lack of systematic practice of domestic energy conservation measures; and
- Deforestation in and around the camps.
Since its establishment in December 1997, Gihembe refugee camp has been experiencing extreme environmental challenges affecting the physical environment as well as refugees and the host community. The main environmental challenges are extreme soil erosion, which has led to the creation of life-threatening gullies and ravines.
The refugees of Gihembe camp, overwhelmed by events, are making an appeal to anyone who can help.
UNHCR has a close working relationship with other UN agencies (UNDP, UNEP, UN-Habitat), Implementing partners (American Refugee Committee & COOP-Rwanda) and Government Partners (Ministry of Disaster Management & Refugee Affairs). Partnership is important in order to achieve environment protection in the camps. Presently, UNHCR is also looking into expanding this partnership to include other environment Institutions and local authorities.