“We are people like others,” say refugees at World Refugee Day celebration in Mahama Refugee Camp

Monday 27 June 2016

Every day war and violence forces thousands of children and their families to flee their homes. In the height of the chaos, some are separated from their families, while others do not know that they are refugees.

On 20th June, 2016 the world marked World Refugee Day as a reminder of the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. In Rwanda’s Mahama camp, which hosts nearly 50,000 refugees from Burundi, everyone came together to celebrate that day.

Along the streets of the camp, children and other members of the community held banners singing, dancing and thanking the government and agencies who have supported them in their hour of need.

Through one of their songs performed, they sang: “We are people like others, our children have different talents, and they can perform well in classes like others. We can sing, dance, work, and live. This is our day, this is our time, this is our moment to plan for the future.”

Rwanda is host to more than 162,000 refugees, half of them under the age of 18. “We thank the Government, UNCHR and all other agencies who received us and ensure we are safe and have access to necessities,” said a representative at the celebration. “Let us make sure we safeguard everything provided to us. We need to also ensure all children go to school, practice good hygiene, and eradicate violence.”

Since May 2015 Save the Children has been working in Mahama Camp, ensuring the displaced population have access to community protection, child protection, health and nutrition services and education for out of school youth. So far, Save the Children’s services have reached over 25,000 people including 14,000 children.  

The Government and UNHCR Representatives who celebrated the day with refugees also encouraged them to look forward by planning their future. “You are people like others, people like you and me,” they said. World Refugee Day has been marked on 20th June since the UN General Assembly on 4th December 2000.