Mahama Refugee Camp | July 21 2017, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) hosted a visit to Mahama Refugee Camp by a delegation composed of the Deputy Chief of Mission for the Embassy of Korea, Mr. Lee Dong-ku, and the Country Director of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOIKA), Mr. Cho Hyeong Lae, with other Embassy and KOICA officials. The aim of the visit was for the delegation to get an overview of the achievements, challenges and conditions in the camp, and also to see first-hand the adolescent reproductive health project of UNFPA supported by the Government of Korea.
Opened on 22 April 2015 by the Government of Rwanda Ministry for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and UNHCR, Mahama Refugee Camp has transformed from a site composed of emergency tents and facilities to a vast settlement of semi-permanent shelters and durable facilities for water and sanitation, health, protection and education. Since 2016, UNHCR and its partners have worked to upgrade facilities in the camp including establishing a permanent water treatment facility that today serves the refugees but also the host community, constructing two durable health centers, and replacing pit latrines with dischargeable latrines throughout the camp. UNHCR has also constructed 5,172 semi-permanent shelters, covering nearly 70% of the camp population which today exceeds 54,000 individuals.
The visit included tours of various facilities in the camp with an emphasis on adolescent reproductive health interventions carried out by UNFPA with support from Korea. In 2016, through Korea support, UNFPA contributed to around 3,428 safe deliveries which happened in Mahama Camp as of December 2016 and around 2,000 women and girls in reproductive health used modern Family planning methods. In addition to this, adolescent sexual and reproductive health services have been initiated in Mahama camp with thanks to the support of the Republic of Korea, and three youth friendly service delivery points are now fully operational. This marks the first time fully-fledged youth friendly service delivery points are introduced in Mahama Camp to help ensure adolescent youth have access to critical health information and services to avoid among others unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS.
The needs for the Burundi refugee response remain acute in Mahama Camp, as additional semi-permanent shelters are urgently needed to cover the entire population. UNHCR has also constructed over 120 classrooms in the local district school so that refugees could be integrated, but there remain additional needs to ensure that all refugee and host community girls and boys are equally accessing quality education. There are also important needs in the health sector, to ensure that UNHCR can support local hospitals to receive refugee patients who are in need of secondary and tertiary care in addition to specific sexual and reproductive health needs of vulnerable populations like adolescents and youth.
For more information on the 2017 refugee response please view the Burundi Refugee Response Plan (Rwanda chapter) available at: http://reporting.unhcr.org/sites/default/files/2017%20Burundi%20Regional%20Refugee%20Response%20Plan%20-%20Jan-Dec%202017%20%28December%202016%29.pdf.
Eugene Sibomana, SIBOMANE@unhcr.org