The government of Rwanda has welcomed the move by the United Nations High Commission (UNHCR) that seeks to end the existence of Rwandan refugees.
Senior government officials who attended a meeting yesterday with the visiting UNHCR boss, António Guterres, said it’s a right step as the country expects to include all its citizens in the development process.
The Minister of Education, Charles Murigande noted that over the years, the government has taken the initiative to encourage refugees to come back home.
“Now that the UNHCR has added its voice to this cause we are indeed very happy to end this sad chapter of our history. As the country aims at attaining major development goals such as vision 2020, we would not want to leave part of our population behind,” Murigande said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Rosemary Museminari, also noted that the government is ready to help the returnees to settle and suggested that the roadmap towards this goal should include resource mobilization.
Guterres cautioned that the decision to close this chapter is not just a decoration but a process that needs collaboration with governments in countries where these refugees live.
“We must launch an enhanced programme since the last group is very hard to convince to come back home. The situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is complex. Most of the Rwandan refugees living there are living with hardships.
“The women face sexual and gender based violence from various groups of people. It is therefore imperative to plan for these vulnerable people so that when they come, they too can settle in well,” he said.
In response, the Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, Jean d’ Arc Mujawamariya assured the UN chief that the available services that cater for traumatized and abused people in the country will be rendered to these people adding that catch up programmes are also available to facilitate these needs.
According to UNHCR’s Director in the Regional Bureau for Africa, George Okoth – Obbo, Rwandan refugees that live across the world will be called so until 31 December 2011.
“On that day, every Rwandan with status as a refugee in any country will cease to be called so. Our hope is that by then most Rwandans will have returned,” Obbo said.
The High Commissioner also added that : “It is also our responsibility to guarantee that those (refugees) who wish to stay in their countries of residence also enjoy their rights and acquire necessary documentation such as travel permits and nationality.”
The Immigration and Emigration boss, Anaclet Kalibata added that Rwanda is ready to give any necessary documentation to its citizens emphasizing that laws are flexible to allow duo-nationality among others.
Christophe Bazivamo, the Minister for Local government says that there are over 64000 refugees living in various countries but over the years, 3.3 million Rwandans have been repatriated and successfully integrated.