Mahama (Rwanda) : repetitive shortage of cooking gas stocks

Mahama (Rwanda) : repetitive shortage of cooking gas stocks

Refugees from the Mahama camp in Rwanda denounce a cycle of shortages of cooking gas stocks. They are at least two weeks behind schedule each month, which aggravates the situation of misery which is in full swing in this Burundian and Congolese refugee camp. They are demanding the installation of several gas distribution stations instead of just one, which is currently operational. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

This week, refugees in the Mahama camp located in eastern Rwanda are receiving cooking gas assistance which should have been distributed at the end of last August. “It is deplorable, it’s as if since the end of August until today, we have no fuel to prepare food. This means that sometimes we can spend a night without having anything to eat because of the lack of cooking gas”, say Burundian refugees.

In the Eastern Province where the camp is located, environmentalists are fierce about felling forest trees that could be used for firewood.

“A refugee caught with firewood is punished with penal servitude. No one goes into the forests to look for wood”, they regret.

To deal with this problem, “refugees use avocado tree trunks, worn clothes, stones and anything that can heat the pot”, indicate refugees.

This problem of stock shortages of cooking gas has been noticeable since the beginning of this year.

Only one gas distribution station is operational. The refugees are demanding that several other stations be installed.

According to UNHCR agents, this problem could soon be resolved. “Another contractor has won the contract and work to install a new station is underway in village 11, Mahama II zone. This way, we will be able to reduce queues and ease the burden on refugees who have no other alternative for cooking”, they assure.

Some refugees are delighted but remain skeptical. “Let’s wait and see. It’s true that the installation work is nearing completion, but we still have concerns. We suspect that the UNHCR could give us money to buy gas bottles ourselves from these contractors. There, we are sure that some refugees will use the money for other purposes, knowing that poverty hits hard here. Managers must cover all the contours of the issue so as not to mislead us,” point out Burundians.

These refugees demand that the UNHCR, the WFP and the ministry in charge of them, MINEMA, review the increase of the assistance in food and currency, because prices on the market have increased significantly, going from single or double, or even triple for certain basic food products.

The Rwandan development agency, RDB, had recently declared that the skyrocketing inflation rate at the country level could affect the household basket of vulnerable populations. And the refugees see themselves on the front line of this threat.

The Mahama camp is expanding quickly because it continues to accommodate Congolese who are fleeing from the North Kivu province, which requires the intervention of several humanitarian workers who had withdrawn since the start of voluntary repatriation for Burundians in 2020.

It currently shelters more than 55,000 people, still the majority being Burundian refugees.

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