Police shot dead 11 refugees in Rwanda food riot: UN

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United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) shows a child eating lentils in a food distribution center in the Rwanda camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Tawila, North Darfur.

United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) shows a child eating lentils in a food distribution center in the Rwanda camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Tawila, North Darfur.

KIGALI – The death toll when Rwandan police broke up a crowd demonstrating against a cut in food rations reached 11, the United Nations refugee agency  said Monday.

Police had reported five Congolese refugees were killed and more than 20 injured in the incident last Thursday.

It followed days of sit-in protests against the reduction in food aid at Kiziba refugee camp in western Rwanda.

The UNHCR released a statement saying 11 died at two locations.

“This tragedy should have been avoided and the disproportionate use of force against refugees is not acceptable, said  UNHCR external relations officer Daniela Ionita.

"UNHCR calls on the authorities to refrain from further use of force and to investigate the circumstances of these tragic incidents.

READ: UN urges Rwandan authorities not to use force

“The UN Refugee Agency is shocked and disturbed by the loss of refugee lives.

Many others were injured – including members of the police force and UNHCR staff.

Eight of the refugees died in Karongi town, where thousands had gone to protest at the offices of World Food Program, and three died inside the Kiziba Camp.

The situation at Kiziba camp, which hosts over 17,000 Congolese refugees, was by Monday reported calm. The UNHCR was expected to resume aid work in the camp Tuesday.

Over 173,000 Congolese and Burundian refugees are in six camps in Rwanda, many have been there for over 20 years.

The World Food Programme reduced food rations in the camps by 10 percent in November 2017 and 25 percent in January 2018 due to a shortage in funds.

Under-funding has severely affected humanitarian operations in Rwanda. UNHCR’s 2018 appeal for US$98.8 million to support refugees in Rwanda is only 2 per cent funded.

The UNHCR, said it has received just two percent of the $98.8 million (80 million euros) it needs this year to look after the refugees.