By the end of 2012, over half a million refugees had fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), making the DRC refugee population the sixth largest in the world. Over 75% of the DRC refugees are hosted by neighbouring countries in the Great Lakes Region and Southern Africa - the Republic of the Congo (89,424), Uganda (127,021), Tanzania (63,330), Rwanda (57,857), Burundi (41,439), Zambia (14,784) and Malawi (2,558). The movement of Congolese refugees to neighbouring countries was prompted both by the first and second Congo Wars (in 1996-7 and 1998-2003, respectively) and the more recent violence in the east of the DRC that led to almost 45,000 refugees fleeing to Uganda and Rwanda. Click here to read a summary of the Congolese (DRC) refugee situation.
The Congolese have been living in protracted situations in camps, settlements (Uganda) and urban situations, many for periods of up to 17 years. Voluntary repatriation is simply not viable due to the volatile situation in many areas of the DRC, and although all countries hosting DRC refugees are signatories to the 1951 Convention, its 1967 Protocol and the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, several have imposed restrictions limiting the ability of DRC refugees to enjoy legal rights such as free movement, secure legal status and access to education. In 2012, the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) designated refugees from the DRC as a priority situation for the strategic use of resettlement. The large majority of DRC refugees are resettled to the United States, whilst in Europe, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands have pledged to resettle DRC refugees in 2013 and beyond.
Mukamusoni and her family fled the Congo Civil War in 1996 when she was just 10 years old, and lived in the Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda. Single mother Mukamusoni and her three children were accepted for resettlement by Finland as quota refugees and waited 3 years to make the journey to Finland. Directed by Juan Reina, the Tampere Film Festival prize-winning film 6954 Kilometres to Home depicts Makamusoni's family's journey from the Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda to Finland in 2012. 6954 Kilometres to Home shows resettlement preparations, the journey, arrival and settlement from the family’s perspective.
Below is a 15-minute excerpt of the film.
Directed by Juan Reina.
Resettlement can only save lives when it is an available option, which is why 6 leading organisations in the refugee field launched the Resettlement Saves Lives Campaign. By working to increase the number of resettlement places in member states of the European Union from its current 5,500 places to 20,000 per year by 2020, Europe can play a larger role in the global response towards refugee situations like this one and help Congolese and other refugees have access to this life saving durable solution. Click here to find out how you can get involved in this campaign today.