KARONGI, RWANDA - The Rwandan army used live ammunition Tuesday to disperse Congolese refugees who walked out of their camp to protest poor living conditions.
Between 3,000 and 4,000 refugees walked for two hours from the Kiziba camp to stage a protest outside the offices of the U.N. refugee agency in the Karongi district of western Rwanda.
According to a reporter for VOA's Central Africa service, one refugee suffered a minor injury from the army shooting.
The refugees are demanding to be resettled in another country. If that does not happen, they say they will walk back to their home country.
“We are tired of our rights being ignored,” said Louis Maombi, president of the Congolese refugees committee in Kiziba Camp. “We no longer feel secure here. We need to be resettled somewhere else. We can no longer live in Rwanda."
Neither the U.N. refugee agency nor the Rwandan government has spoken to the refugees.
The Kiziba refugee camp is one of the oldest camps in Rwanda and a home to about 17,000 Congolese. The camp was opened in 1996 to host Congolese who were fleeing insecurity in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Early this year, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed for funding to reverse a 25 percent reduction in food rations and cash assistance for more than 100,000 refugees in Rwanda.
Some 130,000 Congolese and Burundian refugees living in Rwanda rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their food needs. They receive either monthly food distributions or cash transfers from WFP so that they can buy food in local markets.