UN Refugee Agency Head Visits American Refugee Committee’s Relief Programs Serving Refugees from the Congo


October 26, 2009

Minneapolis, MN — On Wednesday, Antonio Guterres, the head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, visited Nyabeheke, a refugee camp in eastern Rwanda managed by the American Refugee Committee, to learn more about the situation facing Congolese refugees.

“We were pleased to host High Commissioner Guterres, who thanked us for our work as principal implementing partner for the United Nations in three refugee camps,” said Barry Wheeler, American Refugee Committee country director for Rwanda. “The High Commissioner was able to learn more about some of the work we’re doing—in partnership with the refugees themselves—including health care, clean water, domestic violence prevention, and small business loans.”

The American Refugee Committee manages three of the largest refugee camps in Rwanda, which together house nearly 50,000 refugees from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.  Many of the refugees have been in the camps for 15 years, and some have arrived more recently, escaping violence in the Congo—a conflict which has been deemed the worst humanitarian emergency to unfold in Africa in recent decades.  Since 1998, the conflict has claimed an estimated 5.4 million lives due to fighting, disease, and malnutrition, and has left millions displaced.

“The refugees have lost everything, and their lives are at risk due to the ongoing violence in the region,” said Daniel Wordsworth, the American Refugee Committee President and CEO, “We will continue to be a strong presence in the region, working with refugees to help them take back control of their lives.”

The American Refugee Committee has operated relief programs in Rwanda since 1994.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN REFUGEE COMMITTEE:  The American Refugee Committee is a humanitarian aid agency that works to help people take back control of their lives.  The partnerships we form with our constituents and supporters provide essential services and economic opportunities to people who have lost everything due to conflict and disaster.  Each year, the American Refugee Committee works with nearly 2.5 million people in Africa and Asia.    

Press contact: Therese Gales at (800) 875-7060. 

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