An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Rwanda.


An overview of how the Global Compact on Refugees is being turned into action in Rwanda.
A man in a shop hands over goods packed in a brown paper bag.

Ali Abdi is a refugee from Somalia. He has successfully integrated in Rwandan society and own a shop selling everything from water to mobile phones.

Content of this page:
1. Description of the refugee situation
2. Rwanda's response to the refugee situation
3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact


1. Description of refugee situation

Where does the population of concern live?

Mostly in camps.

  • Refugees: total 149,546; 137,725 (Camps)& 11,821 (Urban) 
  • Congolese from DRC: 76,366
  • Burundians: 72,939 
  • Others: 241  

Find live data, information and fact sheets on the refugee situation in Rwanda on the UNHCR Operational Portal as well as Global Focus

2. Rwanda's response to the refugee situation

An overview of how the Government has structured its ability to respond to the refugee situation, with the support of partners.

The Government of Rwanda made four commitments at the Leader’s Summit in 2016 and has worked with UN Agencies, NGOs, private sector and others to fulfill them through the following measures:

  • Public launch of strategy to promote livelihoods opportunities for refugees, jointly launched by the then- Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and UNHCR. The strategy focuses on graduating refugees who living in camps - out of assistance programs and increasing their formal access to work opportunities.
  • Commitment to ensure that 100% of refugees are in possession of valid refugee identity cards issued by the Government by the end of 2017.
  • Commitment that 100% of refugee students in secondary school and 50% in primary schools will be integrated into national education systems by the end of 2018.
  • Commitment that 100% of urban refugees will have the opportunity to buy into national health insurance systems by the end of 2017.

Today, the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) is the line ministry for refugees; it works closely with other branches of government towards meeting these commitments. The last three commitments related to documentation, education and health are well on track; while challenges remain to make refugees fully self-reliant through the Livelihoods strategy  

The Socio-economic inclusion of refugees and host communities in Rwanda project, supported by the World Bank funding also details how these commitments are being met, with baselines and targets included. Donors are also supporting technical trainings at TVET schools (these are vocational training institutes) to build skills that will help access livelihoods—GIZ has a 7m Euro commitment for TVET training and for access to employment. Opportunities are being discussed with the private sector as well, particularly for employment opportunities for refugees.

Which partnerships have been strengthened or have been made possible thanks to the implementation of the Global Compact of Refugees?

In an effort to bridge humanitarian and development interventions on refugee matters, the field offices of UNHCR participate in the district-based Joint Action for Development Forum (JADF), which brings together civil society, private sector and government actors at the district level to ensure a participatory process towards community development. UNHCR’s participation ensures that refugees can be integrated in local government development planning.

In recent years, the private sector has been a growing partner in providing market-based services to refugees. Three examples can illustrate this: Inkomoko provides business development and funding to refugees and their hosts; Ayatake Company Ltd manages the water supply to refugees living in Mahama Camp (in the east) and the local communities in the area; while Inyenyeri, Bamboo River and Safe Gas provide cooking energy solutions to refugees in camps and the host community, thus mitigating the environmental impact of the use of firewood by refugees. 

Recently, refugee youths participated in Youth Connekt, which is a national competition supported by the UN Development Programme for young people with business skills to present their ideas for innovative business projects. Those projects that are considered among the best are awarded seed money to implement their ideas. 2019 was the first year when refugees participated, and 90 refugees won awards!

Partners involved


  • Line ministries: Ministry in charge of Emergency Management, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Youth and Culture,  

  • Local government: refugee host districts include Nyamagabe, Gisagara, Karongi, Kirehe, Gatsibo, and Gicumbi 

  • Others: GIZ, The World Bank, Kepler University  


  • National NGOs: Legal Aid Forum, Prison Fellowship Rwanda 

  • International NGOs: Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA), Save the Children, American Refugee Committee (Aligt), Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), World Vision International, Plan International, Humanity and Inclusion 

  • Private Sector: IKEA Foundation, Inkomoko, Inyenyeri, Bamboo River, Ayateke Company Ltd 

3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact

Here’s a summary of how partnerships working in education, livelihoods, health and social inclusion have already transformed the lives of refugees and their hosts. 

Activities under Objective 1 of the GCR, to ease pressures on host countries:

In Rwanda, partners such as the World Bank, though the IDA-18 funding window, are facilitating the Strategic Plan for the Inclusion of Refugees (2019-2024) with a commitment of USD 60 million to the Ministry of Economic and Finance Planning (MINECOFIN). The Plan assesses the baseline status in achieving the four commitments, identifies challenges, strategic objectives, and sets prioritized activities, a financial strategy and a monitoring framework to implement the commitments between 2019 and 2024. The goal of this strategy is to ensure a better quality standard of living for refugees and the host communities, which includes, for instance, the improvement of infrastructure in schools and roads in refugee-hosting districts, benefitting both population groups.

Activities under Objective 2, to enhance refugee self-reliance:

At a national level, UNHCR Rwanda is a member of the One UN through the UN Development Assistance Plan, which is aligned with the Rwanda’s National Strategic Plan for Transformation (2017 – 2024). This provides a strategic platform to advocate for the inclusion of refugees in livelihoods interventions.

The Misizi Marshland project is a success story in the Livelihoods sector, based on the approach of including refugees in the host community. A total of 1,427 households were beneficiaries of the project - 300 refugee households, and 1,127 local households were given access to agricultural land and commercial markets.  The project helped them build their skills and contribute to the local economy, while becoming more self-reliant and contributing towards local development goals and social cohesion among both communities. Farmers have established a cooperative that supports access to financial services to enhance their livelihoods and their access to national programmes such as subsidised agricultural products such as seeds, fertilizers, small scale irrigation systems.

The Misizi Marshland Project is supported by a broad range of actors, with the financial support of the IKEA Foundation and the operational support of the District of Gisagara, MINEMA, and UN Agencies UNHCR, WFP and FAO. Technical supervision and guidance throughout the project is provided with the aim to guarantee its long-term sustainability.More such collaborative projects are in the pipeline, depending on the availability of land.

Development partners are supporting technical trainings at TVET schools - vocational training institutes – where refugees are also enrolled. The German GIZ has a € 7million commitment for TVET training, including supporting access to employment. Furthermore, opportunities are being discussed with the private sector, particularly for access to employment for refugees.

Activities under Objective 3, to expand access to third-country solutions:

“An African solution to an African problem”: In 2019, the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) was launched, providing lifesaving evacuations for refugees and asylum-seekers who are in detention centre in Libya. The Government of Rwanda has offered to host up to 30,000 vulnerable people who are “at risk”, and who will transit through the ETM. The maximum capacity for the ETM is 500 individuals at any given time; at the end of October 2019, the ETM located in Gashora (south) hosted 189 individuals. The majority of refugees at the ETM are expected to be resettled to a third country, with cases currently being processed resettlement Local integration and voluntary repatriation, when feasible, remain possible options for durable solutions.

Pledges and contributions made by Rwanda

Pledges and contributions dashboard  (interactive by Area of Focus)

This dashboard includes all pledges and contributions made towards the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees in Rwanda, including national pledges made by the Government of Rwanda itself.