UNHCR uses cash transfers to provide protection, assistance, and services to displaced populations to help the most vulnerable people to meet their basic needs.
In Rwanda, UNHCR provides four types of cash assistance. Details about how UNHCR determines refugee eligibility for each type of assistance are detailed below.
Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA)
UNHCR does not provide regular cash assistance for urban refugees. In cases of extreme vulnerability, however, UNHCR may provide temporary, life-saving assistance in urban settings. This assistance aims to cover a modest allowance for basic needs for a maximum of three months, depending on available funding. This is referred to as Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA).
If you are an urban refugee in need of EFA, please contact UNHCR or partners through your closest protection desk at community centres, or contact UNHCR through helplines 0788302718/0788383608 or write to [email protected].
Cash Assistance for Energy
In lieu of providing gas or other fuels, in Nyabiheke, Kigeme and Kiziba refugee camps, UNHCR distributes cash assistance to all heads of households in these three camps on a monthly basis to help refugees meet their energy needs, including for cooking.
With the cash assistance, refugee families therefore have a choice of what fuel they will purchase. UNHCR has collaborated with private sector companies to ensure that a range of clean energy sources such as pellets are available for refugees to buy in the camps.
Due to a lack of funding, since July 2023, UNHCR is unable to distribute cash assistance for energy.
Cash Assistance for Non-Food Items
In the past, UNHCR has distributed cash assistance for non-food items to all refugees living in camps in Rwanda on a quarterly basis. The amount of cash assistance distributed to refugees depends on the non-food items which the cash is substituting for instance for soap, mattresses, blankets and menstrual hygiene items.
The last distribution of this cash assistance happened in March 2023. Due to a lack of funding, UNHCR is unable to distribute any more cash assistance for non-food items throughout the rest of 2023.
UNHCR will inform refugees about what the approach will be for cash assistance for non-food items from 2024 onwards in due course.
Cash Assistance for Rwandan returnees
UNHCR provides cash assistance to Rwandan refugees returning back to Rwanda from abroad. The reintegration grant is 250 USD per adult and 150 USD per child. When returnees initially arrive in Rwanda, they will receive 20 percent of the cash assistance value from UNHCR through Equity Bank while they are hosted in UNHCR transit centres. Upon their return to their location of origin, and verification and provision of National Identity cards by the National Identification Agency, returnees will receive the remaining 80 percent of the cash assistance value through their bank accounts from Equity Bank.
Cash assistance is distributed to refugees through Equity Bank. UNHCR staff are available in camps to help new refugees set up an account with Equity Bank or help refugees experiencing difficulties with their accounts. Please refer to the contact page for more details.
Regular transactions are required to maintain the active status of refugee bank accounts. One transaction is required every six months, or your bank account will become dormant after a period of three months and effectively inactive after a period of six months.