Humanitarian workers involved in sexual abuse in Rwanda refugee camps - report

A new report on refugee camps in Rwanda has painted a bleak picture on what takes place in camps, showing humanitarian actors, camp leaders and host communities among people who sexually exploit female refugees in various camps.

Released on Tuesday in Kigali, the Inter-Agency Gender Assessment Report of Refugee Camps in Rwanda sought to inform gender response.

A total of 1,989 respondents were interviewed, including 56 percent female and 44 percent male.

Over 70 percent of the respondents claimed sexual exploitation and sexual abuse happen in the camps.

Rwanda hosts 125,000 refugees in the six camps across the country, with 32,000 refugees living in urban centres.

Majority are from DR Congo and Burundi driven out of their countries due to political turmoil.

The Inter Agency Assessment of refugee Camps in Rwanda was conducted in April 2016 in all the six camps hosting Burundian and Congolese refugees.

Saber Azam, UN refugee agency country representative to Rwanda condemned the revelation, and urged refugee leaders to protect rights of refugees.

"This is a very sensitive and a very important issue, this was an open question asked to refugees and in every refugee situation we are concerned about this. The people who have the power of helping should not abuse and should not use their position to abuse the refugees and particularly the refugee women," said Azam.

He noted that preventative actions have been taken to ensure that refugee adolescents don't frequent areas where they can fall victims to sexual abuse.

He said Rwandan laws would take course for those implicated.

Seraphine Mukantabana, Rwanda's Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs said her government condemns all acts of violence against refugees.

"The report revealed that some of humanitarian actors take advantage of female refugees who need support and sexually exploit them, this is against Rwandan law and culprits face heavy penalty and can no longer serve anywhere in humanitarian agencies," she said

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