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Refugee children and women receive continued support from the Government of Japan

UNICEF Rwanda/2018/Rudakubana
© UNICEF Rwanda/2018/Rudakubana
Burundian refugee children climb on the new playground in Mahama Camp. Before the construction of this play park, children between the ages of 10 and 14 had little opportunities and few infrastructure for play, exploration and other social interaction.

Mahama, 5 September 2018 – The Honourable Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and the Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda joined the Representatives of UNICEF and UNHCR in Rwanda on a visit to Mahama Camp for Burundian refugees today. Delegates and community members celebrated the completion and handover of new early childhood development facilities for children and families in the camp.

Children between the ages of 0 and 6 years are in a critical stage of cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, but often miss opportunities in these areas when affected by humanitarian crises. Families in emergencies are often traumatised and have limited resources to provide optimal early care, stimulation and learning for their children. Inadequate feeding, poor water and sanitation facilities, and low access to basic services in camps can also deprive children of an adequate foundation in these areas.

To address these issues, MIDIMAR and UNICEF have invested in early childhood development (ECD) interventions to ensure that young children in Mahama Camp are cared for in a nurturing environment. Although ECD and pre-primary services are currently reaching over 5,400 children between 3 and 6 years, the large number of refugee children in the camp require additional efforts.

"The Government of Rwanda has made early childhood development a priority to help build a better future for our children. As the number of refugees has continued to increase globally requiring more budgets to safeguard their welfare, the Government of Rwanda has opted to integrate refugee students into our national education system. I would like to thank the various stakeholders for their support in facilitating refugee children to access ECD services", said the Minister of MIDIMAR.

To help meet the early childhood needs of Rwanda’s refugee children, in 2017 the Government of Japan supported the construction of a new play park, providing children between the ages of 3 and 12 a space for entertainment and social interaction. The Government of Japan also provided supplies for the existing ECD centre in the camp, and facilitated training for 14 ECD caregivers and 72 parent leaders. During the visit to Mahama yesterday, two additional ECD classrooms were inaugurated and handed over, constructed with funding support from the Government of Japan. These new classrooms, will allow an additional 200 children to access ECD services.

UNICEF Rwanda/2018/Rudakubana
© UNICEF Rwanda/2018/Rudakubana
The Rwandan Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs and the Ambassador of Japan in Rwanda push children on the swings at the new playground for Burundian refugee children in Mahama Camp.

His Excellency Takayuki Miyashita, Ambassador of Japan to Rwanda, celebrated the completion of the project. “Children’s development is important no matter where they are, including in refugee camps. Children are the future. We would like to thank UNICEF and other partners for completing this important project, and I would also like to emphasize that the Government of Japan will continue to support the Government of Rwanda’s effort to assist refugees in Rwanda.” said Ambassador Miyashita.

“We would like to thank the Government of Japan for their sustained partnership, allowing us to reach every child in Mahama Camp with this essential support,” said Ted Maly, UNICEF Representative in Rwanda. “We all have an important role to play in providing a strong foundation for these children. With this infrastructure in place, we encourage the parents in Mahama Camp to nurture and educate their children from a young age.”

In Rwanda, ECD is also a leadership priority, and remains a foundational strategy for Vision 2020 and the National Strategy for Transformation. The Government has employed significant efforts to establish an enabling environment for ECD, including policy and legal frameworks, quality standards, and strong coordination mechanisms that build synergies and encourage collaboration among stakeholders.



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