Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

Welcome to
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is the Nairobi UN Agency For Refugees A Kagame's Proxy To Harass Rwandan Hutu Refugees?

Since the attacks of a Tutsi led rebel movement that invaded Rwanda from Uganda in 1990s, some Rwandans have been on the move for over 20 years now. These are the population of the North Eastern Rwanda in the region used to be known as Byumba Prefecture. The rebels' attacks forced the people who had known nothing else but peace of working on their ancestors' farms over centuries. When the Tutsi led rebellion movement called Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) started shooting in the hills of Gatuna and Kagitumba. the people from the neighboring communes took up their mats and started an endless journey which would later take them to various countries around the world this including Kenya.

When the millions of Rwandans fled their homeland majority of them being Hutus who had been branded genocidaires by western media and the USA and UK who simply did it not because this people deserved the name as a Law Professor Peter Erlinder explains on this American National TV interview, but simply because of the fight of rare minerals only found in that region and these two countries wanted to remove the Hutu regime which was friendly to France and enthrone their own guy armed and trained in Arkansas in United States.

After the RPF soldiers invaded DRC the former Zaire in October 1996 in the bid to destroy the Hutu refugee camps in Eastern DRC such as Kibumba,Mugunga, Lac Vert, Kaihindo, Gatare, NRA, Nyangezi and other small camps in the region of Kivu. Other many refugees were forced back to Rwanda under the gun's nozzle. Others entered the Ituli forest or walked their way into Uganda and later ended in Kenya. There is another group that crossed the Lake Tanganyika into Tanzania joining other Rwanda refugees who had been there since 1994. Later the Tanzania government which supported the RPF to overthrow the regime of Habyalimana since 1990s responded to RPF plea to repatriate Hutu refugees who were living in Tanzania. Thousands of refugees were also forced back to Rwanda under the gun's nozzle. Many of them sustained injuries from the brutality of Tanzanian forces who also have some Tutsi people inscribed into the army as Tanzanians. It was their own good time to revenge against their enemy Hutus who are alleged to have massacred hundred of thousands of Tutsis in 1994.

Like it happened in 1996 in Eastern DRC, when the Tanzanian government forced Rwandan Hutu refugees to go back to Rwanda in 1997, there is a group that managed to escape and went to Kenya hoping to have protection. Though there are many incidents where many refugees have been harassed by the police in Kenya, most of the cases are not customized to Rwandan refugees in Kenya alone. Kenyan police all refugees without selecting one community of refugees because they do as they ask for bribe. This also happens to Kenyan citizens when they do not give bribe to the police.

Rwandan refugees living in Kenya have a peculiar problem that they face which is not common to other refugees from other countries living in Kenya. The Rwandan hutu refugees unlike other refugees from DRC,Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, and Somalia.

The Nairobi United Nations High Commission for Refugees Office has been associated with corruption of all sorts from the staff asking sex from women, money, and other services the UNHCR officer might want to so that they give them resettlement or even a mere paper locally known as Protection Mandate which has a serial number. This paper does not help a lot though in some instances it might help the holder. Most of Rwandan refugees living in Kenya do not have any document others were even denied to register with UNHCR on unknown or unjustified reasons. Refugees from Rwanda have been the victims of the western manufactured genocide term to explain the Rwandan massacre of 1994. The RPF has spent a lot of money bribing some of the Nairobi UNHCR staff in order to deny Rwandan Hutu refugees documents so that they d not benefit from the protection that the Kenya government provides to refugees. The reason underlying this psychological torture is that when Rwanda under RPF leadership does not want any Hutu refugee to be outside of Rwanda because of the following reasons:
  1. Most of the RPF regimes authorities have lived in exile since 1959 when the Hutu majority ended the Tutsi monarchy rule of 400 years. This people went into exile in different countries where they benefited from the UN assistance to refugees and attended different prestige schools. Other did business in different countries and later they used this privilege of being refugees to fund-raise in order to come back to Rwanda to remove a democratically elected government of Habyaliman who was from the Hutu tribe. The RPF members do not want people to live in exile because they will not have access to them in order to control whatever they say about the RPF regime. Therefore it is good for the RPF to pay a lot of money bribing the UNHCR staff to not give Rwandan Hutu refugees the Mandate documents so that they do not have any access to any kind of assistance.
  2. RPF knows very well that if they manage to influence the UNHCR Nairobi office to not provide any kind of help by denying them protection letter, then it will be easy for the RPF government to convince this refugees to go back in the so-called "Voluntary Repatriation" like the ones that took place in Zambia, Congo Brazaville, and Gabon in July 9,1997.
  3. If the Rwandan refugees are not going to have legal documents in Kenya, then they are going to be harassed by the police, their children will not be able to go to school, the parents will not be able to do some business or secure any kind of job in order to take care of their families. This means that the family will become dysfunctional then it will have no option except to risk and go back to Rwanda for the sake of the children so that the children can have access to education whereas the father is jailed by the RPF being accused of being in exile for so long.
  4. RPF and UNHCR entered into agreement of denying legal documents to mostly the men and young men even those who have schooled in Kenya do not have document because Kagame asked that they be denied UNHCR document in order for them to go back to Rwanda where around 200,000 of Hutus are in different jails around the country.
Many Rwandan refugees living in Kenya have written many letters of complaints to the UNHCR Head-Quarter in Geneva but there is very little if any that the UNHCR high command has done to address the situation of Rwandan refugees in Kenya. When I was doing my research on the situation of African Refugee in the Great Lakes Region I also came across another surprising dubious chain of trickery operated by the UNHCR in conjunction with RPF regime. This was based on the complaints that while interviewing refugees living in slums around Nairobi. There is another organization that has its headquarter in New York,USA called Mapendo International. This organization was formed by some USA Philanthropists who had witnessed the unfair treatment of refugees in Africa. The organization used the story of a Munyamurenge woman by the name of Rose Mapendo who survived what they call a Congo genocide. First when you read this story is a touching story like all refugees' stories from the Great Lakes Region. The only difference is that Mapendo's Story talks about surviving the Congolese Genocide. When I read about Mapendo Surviving a Congolese Genocide she is not talking about the human atrocities which has characterized the Eastern DRC. The story of Mapendo International does not end there because the Rose Mapendo who is an organization's ambassador spends her time going around North America fundraising for the organization telling her story of surviving the Congo Genocide which talks about how Banyamulenge have been brutally killed but she never talks about the story of General Nkunda who is also a Munyamulenge of how he has been killing children and raping women in Masisi.

Another sad story behind Mapendo International it is its famous segregation in assisting refugees at its office in Nairobi. I had an opportunity to talk with various refugee communities living in Nairobi. I came to learn that Mapendo clients who mostly happen to be people from Tutsi community across Lake Kivu or the Banyamulenge Community as they are known in Eastern Congo, have a "password" for the interviews when they go to present their cases to Mapendo for initial refugee assistance and resettlement.

Only Banyamulenge refugees who pass the interviews after being asked whether they are Hutus or Tutsis. When you go for an interview with Mapendo International in Nairobi and you are a refugee from other community especially when you are a Hutu refugee even if you are from DRC, your case is rejected. I met a couple of Rwandan and Congolese refugees who preferred to call themselves Tutsis or Banyamulenge so that they could qualify for the Mapendo International assistance. Most of the refugees I talked on my trip to Nairobi, they all share one thing that Mapendo International should change its name to Mapendo 4 Banyamurenge and remove itds name international or the clause talking about the refugees in Africa because it has been proven that it only serves Banyamulenge and Tutsis from Rwanda who change and get the "password" that qualify them to get resettled to North America.

To verify the story I went with them to Umoja Estate and Kariokor in Nairobi where most of Mapendo clients stay as they wait before being relocated to North America. There were over a 100 refugees from Rwanda and some few of them from Congo DR who are also Banyamulenge the community that Mapendo Rose comes from. Most of the people here in this estate are Rwandans that we all know that they served in RPF liberation war in 1993. A few weeks later, they went for orientation sponsored by International Organization for Migration IOM at Safari Park Hotel where the refugees in transit to North America spend few weeks learning the new culture. Then after three weeks of September, 2008, this refugees mixed with some former RPF military of Kagame who had just arrived in Nairobi in February, 2008 took the plane at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi heading to New York.

After my three months investigation about the refugee business in Africa I discovered that some organizations such as UNHCR,Mapendo Intl and other relief agencies are not only playing the Kagame politics of sidelining innocent Hutu refugees in the region but also working hard to widen the gap of genuine reconciliation among Rwandans. I later took my flight back to Australia and decided to publish this story so that maybe the International community in charge of UNHCR and other refugee agencies should act to ensure that there egalitarianism in serving this deprived community of East Africa. I myself having lived in Kenya I know very well the injustice and unfair treatment of refugees from the Great Lakes especially Rwandans refugees undergo in the hands off UNHCR Nairobi Office.


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