Highlights from 2020
Prison Fellowship Rwanda is proud of the progress we have made, in partnership with the government of Rwanda, its relevant agencies, local and international organizations as well as UN agencies to foster interventions that support psychological healing, peacebuilding and reconciliation, crime prevention and legal aid, and economic development in Rwanda as well as relieving people in emergencies. As we continue to serve our beneficiaries, we are looking back at some of the highlights from our work in 2020, as well as ahead to our goals for 2020 and beyond.
Partnership with UNHCR -Community-based Protection and Legal Assistance
UNHCR formally signed a partnership agreement with Prison Fellowship Rwanda (PFR) to deliver legal services in Kigali and three refugee camps (Gihembe, Nyabiheke, and Kiziba) and Community Based Protection activities in all locations. Since January 2020, Prison Fellowship Rwanda, in close collaboration with UNHCR, MINEMA, and other partners, has been implementing the project entitled “Community-based protection and legal assistance” in refugee camps and urban areas.
As of December 2019, UNHCR has a population of 149,955 refugees and asylum seekers, 76,266 of them are from the DRC who fled to Rwanda through different cycles of violence in the DRC in the 1990s and more recently in 2012-2013 and 73,332 Burundian refugees fled in 2015 following the electoral violence in Burundi and who continue to arrive in Rwanda (200 new arrivals a month).
Since January 2020, in partnership with UNHCR, Prison Fellowship Rwanda (PFR) achieved the following milestones:
Needs assessment and Community structures mapping
As a community-based protection partner our efforts started with mapping all existing community structures, identifying key issues that they face in their daily lives in camps and urban areas, and how better to find solutions to those issues as well as assisting them to overcome the challenges faced. Some of problems that are mostly faced include family conflicts, alcohol and drug abuse among others.
Creating New groups
In addition to mapping existing groups/structures, PFR facilitated the creation of new ones including groups of youth, Elders, women’s groups and group of men, youth ambassadors, teachers, religious, etc. (Sam)! Field officers work closely with these groups in CBP and legal assistance to reach and affect more PoCs. For example, the role of church leaders and members is key in raising awareness on the prevention of drug abuse. Church leaders can be the effective channel for anti-social behavior prevention in refugee communities Mapping their structures and creating new groups aimed at ensuring that all persons of concern are appropriately represented, and PFR initiated new groups to ensure inclusive representation of all categories. Persons of concern committed to working closely with field officers in preventing and addressing identified problems such as drug abuse and family conflicts in their community.
Election of Women’s Committee
PFR in collaboration with UNHCR and other partners facilitated the Election of Women’s Committees in the camps and urban areas. This empowers women and improves their engagement in many areas.
Building relationships with PoCs and host communities
To be better positioned to serve persons of concern, PFR collaborated with different stakeholders, implementing partners as well as local authorities from host communities to build good working relations. PFR staff were well received, supported and easily integrated in field locations.
Legal assistance and civil registration
PFR inherited from Legal Aid Forum (LAF) a number of criminal and civil cases, late birth registration as well as the controversial cases from the incident of Kiziba camp. PFR ensured that these issues were addressed and harmony restored.
In addition to providing legal assistance in criminal and civil matters (legal education and awareness and mediation, advice, referral, etc.) PFR ensures that newborns are registered. PFR field staff conducted visits to the health centers where they register new-borns at health centers in order to avoid delay as stipulated in article 100 of family. PFR has built good relationships and close collaboration with Health Centers and this facilitates the birth registration and legal education conducted at health centers. Before birth registration, Field officers dedicate time for legal education where they explain to parents’ legal provisions related to person and family with an emphasis on the importance of civil registration. They also use this opportunity to sensitize women on the importance of vaccination and early birth registration as a basic child.
As part of legal assistance to PoCs, PFR conducted detention monitoring to assess the needs of PoCs and to make sure that they are getting appropriate services and legal assistance. PFR lawyers ensured that court defenses were carefully examined and prepared in close collaboration with detained PoCs.
Awareness and sensitization campaigns
In order to support community self-management, PFR conducted awareness and sensitization campaigns focusing on the issues that affect refugees mostly women and youth. The issues that are mostly addressed are family conflicts and violence, Sexual and drug abuse, human trafficking, exploitation, Gender-based violence, and other emerging crimes. Through these campaigns, PFR ensures participation and engagement of PoCs in order to strengthen their ownership. PFR uses various approaches including football games, camp tours, among others.
Legal Awareness: aimed at increasing awareness on crimes and crime prevention, PoCs’ rights, and responsibilities as well as and legal information including basic national laws.
Celebration of International Days
PFR facilitated the preparation and celebration of international days including International Women’s Day and World Refugee Day as well as day of African Child.
· Celebration of Women’s Day: March 8, 2020
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day was “Transformational Change: Women at the forefront”.
The celebration of women’s day was a success: An example is in Kiziba camp where the celebration of this day was attended by different partners including UNHCR, a performance by community groups, Kiziba Women’s Committee, and the community in general. About 7,000 people attended the event Prison Fellowship Rwanda. To make the event even merrier, PFR brought Israel Mbonyi, one of the best artists in gospel music in Rwanda, to Kiziba to sing on this very important day. The event was characterized by joy and happiness to both partners and persons of concern.
· Celebration of World Refugee Day. 20th June 2020
On the World Refugee Day, Prison Fellowship Rwanda joined other partners to celebrate this day and refugees’ courage, resilience, and collaboration in addressing issues they face. The message to show PFR’s support to refugees and refugees were encouraged to keep working closely with different partners in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
Theme: “Everyone can make a difference. Every Action counts”
· Day of African Child celebrated alongside the World Refugee Day, 20th June 2020