First batch of Uganda refugees return home

GATUNA - As part of the ongoing repatriation exercise of Rwandan refugees from Uganda, 80 refugees from Nakivale camp crossed into the country via the Gatuna border post yesterday.

GATUNA - As part of the ongoing repatriation exercise of Rwandan refugees from Uganda, 80 refugees from Nakivale camp crossed into the country via the Gatuna border post yesterday.

Repatriation of the returnees who included 38 men, 23 women and 19 children was facilitated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

According to Innocent Ngango, the official in charge of refugees in the Ministry of Local Government, the returnees came voluntarily and were “happy to be in their homeland.”

“They will be received and hosted by the Rwanda Red Cross for thirty days, then they will be facilitated to go back to their respective districts since they are in good condition and they miss their homes,” said Ngango, who was at the border to oversee the exercise.

Upon their entry, the returnees were received by the Protection Officer of UNHCR-Rwanda, Bernadette Muteshi and several government officials.

“UNHCR will provide food and transport to their respective districts as agreed during the meeting in Uganda and we shall be visiting them regularly,” Ngango added.

The return of the refugees starts following a recent consultative meeting in Uganda between the two governments (Rwanda and Uganda) and the UNHCR, which agreed to facilitate the repatriation of the refugees estimated at 20,000.

According to Ngango, the government is expecting to receive 100 more returnees from the Nakivale and Nshungerezi camps.

He said that the Ugandan government, in partnership with UNHCR will continue the repatriation exercise until all refugees are back in the country and added that the exercise is not forceful; it only caters for those who want to return.

During the Uganda meeting, it was agreed that all the refugees be repatriated by July 30 this year. It was also agreed in the same meeting that there was no reason they should continue staying in Uganda when there is stability in Rwanda.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that some refugees, amidst the exercise have embarked on a campaign of discouraging others not to return home, a campaign that has been attributed to some elements who fear returning in case they face justice over their role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

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