The issue of Rwandans expelled from Tanzania recently will feature on the agenda of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for Saturday in Arusha, Tanzania.
Latest statistics from the ministry in charge of refugees show more than 6,650 Rwandans who were living in Kagera region in the northwest of Tanzania, have already crossed into Rwanda following the expiry of a two-week July 29 ultimatum issued by the Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete.
Some have since been reintegrated with their families while more than 3000 are still being sheltered in Kiyanzi transit centre in Kirehe District.
About 1,200 Rwandans are said to have crossed to Uganda after being evicted from Tanzania, according to media reports.
Some of the evictees lost their properties during the course of expulsion, including animals, land, and other belongings.
Contrary to spirit of intergration
It is understood that the Council of Ministers meeting will try to find ways of how the evicted people can get back their property.
The Council of Ministers is the policy organ of the Community, comprising of ministers responsible for EAC affairs from each of the five partner states.
Jacqueline Muhongayire, the minister in charge of EAC Affairs confirmed that the matter will be up for discussion.
“It’s unfortunate that Rwandans were expelled in such a cruel way contrary to the spirit of regional integration. We intend to discuss it in our next council of ministers meeting at the end of this month,” she told The New Times on Monday, adding that the issue is also being handled at a bilateral level.
Muhongayire, however, downplayed talk that the evictions were a threat to the integration process, saying Rwanda and Tanzania as neighboring countries still had a lot to share.
Last week, the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF) condemned the manner in which the Rwandans were evicted.
The petition, addressed to EAC Heads of State, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), president of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the Council of Ministers and the EAC Secretary General, was signed by EACSOF chief executive Martin Mwondha.