Global Compact for Refugees - UNHCR



The Government of Rwanda is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the 1969 Organization of African Unity’s (OAU) Convention, the 1954 and 1961 Statelessness Conventions and the majority of leading international human rights and displacement conventions. It abides by the principle of non-refoulement and its law relating to refugee status aligned with international protection principles. Rwanda has held its doors open to refugees granting prima facie refugee status to those fleeing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1996 and to those fleeing Burundi since election-related outbreak of violence erupted in 2015. As of March 2018, 174,588 refugees reside in Rwanda (representing 1.4% of the total population), the majority of whom live in six camps across the country (79%) while the remainder lives in urban settings, mainly in the capital Kigali and in the city of Huye.

Towards a more comprehensive refugee response

The Rwandan context offers an enabling environment for innovative responses and approaches for refugees based on its national systems and structures. On 19 September 2016, all 193 Member States of the UN General Assembly adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and its Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). On the following day, at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, the Government of Rwanda pledged [1] to:

  • Foster the inclusion of refugees through the joint Rwanda-UNHCR Livelihoods Strategy focused on graduating 18,000 camp-based refugees out of assistance programs such as food and cash-for-food, and increasing formal access to employment for 60,000 refugees by mid-2018. Furthermore, the Government planned to allow 58,000 refugees to enjoy banking services by mid-2018.
  • Further promote refugee integration by:
    • Issuing national identity cards and 1951 Convention travel documents to 160,000 refugees by the end of 2017, which will significantly improve employability and freedom of movement
    • Providing 30,000 urban refugees with the opportunity to buy into [2] the national health insurance. At the moment refugees pay an annual amount of 8000 RWF per year per person with additional charges of 200RWF and 10% of the medical bill for each visit to health facilities.
  • Improve refugees’ access to the national education system by including 35,000 refugee students in secondary schools and 18,000 in primary schools, eliminating the need for parallel camp-based structures and boosting secondary school enrolment.

The CRRF provides the GoR, together with a broad range of partners, with an opportunity to implement and further build upon these generous commitments.

Strategic roll-out of the CRRF

Following a high-level bilateral meeting between the Rwandan Delegation and High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in the margins of UNHCR’s 68th Executive Committee session in 2017, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) requested UNHCR to facilitate an inter-ministerial, exploratory workshop on the CRRF in Rwanda, which took place on 9 November 2017. Different national ministries, local government officials, UN agencies, the World Bank and other partners came together to discuss the CRRF, share lessons from existing roll-out countries and assess the opportunities for the Government to roll out comprehensive refugee responses. Shortly after, on 14 February 2018, the Government announced its application of the CRRF by way of note verbale.

Key partnerships

To further strengthen protection and promote socio-economic inclusion of refugees in Rwanda, the Government and UN Agencies are working together to foster strategic partnerships across government institutions including with line ministries that have not traditionally been associated with refugee responses. Stronger partnerships among civil-society organizations and private sector companies are also being developed. For instance, the Development Partner Coordination Group (DPCG) and the National Development Sector Working Groups (SWGs) serve as important fora with regard to advocacy for the inclusion of refugees in Rwanda’s National Development Plan, District Development Plans and the UN Development Assistance Plan II (2018-2023) and, in turn, to foster the inclusion of refugees in national or area-based programming by development partners.

In the spirit of comprehensive responses, the private sector has engaged in developing sustainable solutions for refugees, for instance through the construction of shelters and sustainable cooking solutions. All actors engaged in the CRRF continue to engage with business leaders to develop long-term solutions for refugees and their hosts.

Current challenges

  • Potential new influxes: Rwanda is a stable country, though past trends in the regions indicate volatile security situations in neighboring countries, signaling a likelihood of new refugee influxes.
  • Fostering self-reliance in protracted situations: Fostering greater inclusion of refugees in host communities, pending a durable solution, can be challenging in the context of long-term encampment.
  • Unpredictable long-term funding outlook and a partner commitment: As the number of refugees in Rwanda has continued to grow, the needs are increasing while global funding allocations are decreasing, hampering efforts for adequate protection.
  • Limited local capacity for financing and growth solutions: Despite the country’s vision to become a middle-income state by 2020, and efforts to rely more on internal tax revenues, development aid is still largely covered utilizing donor funds.


Operational and funding needs to deliver on a comprehensive refugee response

As outlined in section VII, there are key funding and operational gaps in the sector of education and in relation to greater involvement of line ministries other than MIDIMAR.

  • Education: While a lot has been achieved in terms of education enrolment (refugee enrolment in primary schools increased by 26% and by 38% in secondary schools) [3], greater support is needed to be able to include all refugees in the national education systems, as well as recruiting more refugee teachers, providing all teachers with a salary under the government payroll, and above all, improve the quality of education.
  • Greater involvement of line Ministries other than MIDIMAR: In addition to the strong and long-standing collaboration between MIDIMAR and UNHCR , the application of comprehensive responses require more systematic collaboration between line Ministries and all the UN Agencies involved in delivering more comprehensive responses for the benefit of refugees and host communities. This includes the following Ministries: Health, Education, Local Government, Foreign Affairs, Economic Planning, Gender and Family etc.
  • Broad based partnerships: Greater support of development/donor partners (such as Donor Country support) is needed particularly to generate funds to support the government in delivering on its CRRF commitments. Also a higher engagement by the private sector is needed to drive the socio-economic development especially in refugee hosting areas.


Contact persons in Rwanda UNHCR Operation

Jean-Paul Safari (

Jonathan Owusu Darko (


[1] See Leaders’ Summit pledges summary document here .

[2] Nationals pay a highly subsidized amount in four different tiers based on their socio-economic profile; Category one: free; category two: RWF 3000; category three and four: RWF 7000.

[3] The enrolment of refugees in primary schools increased by 26% (from enrolment of 54% as of end 2016 to 80% as of end 2017) and the enrolment of refugees in secondary schools increased by 39% (from enrolment of 34% as of end 2016 to 73% as of end 2017).

Way forward

The next steps in the initial roll-out of the CRRF in Rwanda include:

  • Organizing a government workshop in June 2018 to initiate detailed planning for a CRRF roadmap, including short- and longer-term projects envisioned for more comprehensive responses, setting out priorities and the support that is required and identifying suitable facilitation mechanisms. District-level workshops on the CRRF are planned as a follow-up step.
  • A joint World Bank-UNHCR mission is scheduled in May 2018 to explore the potential for funding under the International Development Assistance sub-window for refugees (IDA 18).
  • The verification of urban refugees is due to be finalized by the end of April 2018. It will enable refugees to access the national health insurance and to receive refugee identity cards the verification of camp-based refugees is due to be finalized by the end of 2018.
  • Organizing a high-level meeting on the inclusion of refugee children in national schools, paving the way for the development of a detailed action plan.
  • Planning for the socio-economic profiling of refugees to help ensure that assistance to refugees is tailored to their specific needs (to begin in quarter two of 2018).


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Two Year Progress Assessment of the CRRF Approach (Sep 2016 - Sep 2018)

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2 MB

This report was prepared by the Evaluation Service, UNHCR.

Published: 19 April, 2018 (4 months ago )
Uploaded: 19 April, 2018 (4 months ago )

High-level ministerial meeting on refugees in the Great Lakes Region (7 March 2019)

Southern Africa and the Great Lakes Burundi Democratic Republic of the Congo Kenya Malawi Rwanda Tanzania (United Republic of) Uganda | Notes/summaries
317 KB

The high-level meeting of Ministers in charge of refugees in the Great Lakes region was held on 7 March 2019 in line with the Global Compact on Refugees adopted on 17 December 2018. More information: here

Published: 19 April, 2018 (4 months ago )
Uploaded: 19 April, 2018 (4 months ago )

Key Decisions of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (January 2019)

Chad Djibouti Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Zambia Uganda Africa Somali Situation | Notes/summaries
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The 32nd Ordinary Sessions of the AU Assembly was held on 10-11 February 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme they focused was on refugees, internally displaced persons and IDPs. The Summit officially launched the theme of the year and adopted a number of important decisions. To see the decisions, see the document attached. More information: here

Published: 19 April, 2018 (4 months ago )
Uploaded: 19 April, 2018 (4 months ago )

CRRF poster – Africa, December 2018

Chad Djibouti East and Horn of Africa Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somali Situation Uganda Zambia | CRRF posters
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This poster provides an overview of key developments in the African countries that are applying comprehensive refugee responses.

Published: 19 April, 2018 (7 months ago )
Uploaded: 19 April, 2018 (7 months ago )

Bridging the Humanitarian-Development Divide for Refugee Children in Eastern Africa and the Great Lakes Region: Mapping existing national child protection practice (May 2018)

East and Horn of Africa Southern Africa and the Great Lakes Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Sudan Tanzania (United Republic of) Uganda | Studies and reports
1 MB

This study is the result of a joint initiative between UNHCR Regional Service Centre/Division of International Protection and UNICEF Regional Office for Eastern and Southern Africa. This document was jointly commissioned by the UNHCR Regional Service Centre and the Division of International Protection and the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office. The study explores the nexus between humanitarian and development approaches to child protection and explores practical ways this divide can be bridged.

Published: 19 April, 2018 (9 months ago )
Uploaded: 19 April, 2018 (9 months ago )

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