MAHAMA, Rwanda – 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 today to Mahama Camp for Burundian refugees. 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 today, 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.
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.
Mahama Camp is host to over 60,000 Burundian refugees. Over half of the camp population is children under 18, who have often experienced deep psychological trauma and lack a place to have fun and let loose. But with funding support from the Government of Japan, UNICEF recently completed a brand new playground for children in Mahama Camp, so children can run, jump, play and climb to their heart's content.
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Rwanda, visit www.unicef.org/rwanda.