KIGALI - The government yesterday officially began issuing Identity Cards to refugees, an exercise that will see over 20,000 refugees from several countries given identification documents.
The inaugural launch that saw 20 refugees get identity cards, took place at the premises of APAPE secondary school in Gikondo, Kicukiro District.
While addressing the beneficiaries and officials from UNHCR, Innocent Ngango, the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Refugees (NCR) in the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee affairs, elaborated on the importance of issuing the cards.
“Refugees living in Rwanda are also entitled to identification just like other citizens, and this is why we decided to give them cards,” Ngango said.
Ngango thanked the UNHCR for working together with the government in the process of preparing and issuing of the cards.
He also urged refugees intending to repatriate to their respective countries not to be deterred by the exercise, saying that this does not in any way stand in their way.
He further asked them to maintain the cards and to register with the local authorities in their respective areas of residence.
The UNHCR Deputy Country Representative, Honorine Sommet-Lange, hailed the government for providing the cards to the refugees, saying that this will allow them to live in total peace, dignity and confidence.
The electronic IDs issued to the refugees are composed of two emblems; one of the government of Rwanda and that of the UNHCR and a big R symbolizing Refugee.
Germain Messe Mukobelwa who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries thanked the Rwandan government for the initiative, saying that they will be able to access services like opening bank accounts which they could not in the past because of lack of identification.
In an interview, Ngango said that the move will allow both the government and UNHCR to easily monitor them, adding that it will also strengthen security situation in the country since some people without travel documents have been disguising themselves as refugees.
According to Ngango, majority of the refugees hail from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Following the launch, the exercise will extend to the refugee camps of Kiziba in Karongi District, Gihembe in Gicumbi District and Nyabiheke in Gatsibo District.