UGANDA - Rwandan refugees living in Uganda have until next year to return home once the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, begins applying the cessation clause, it has emerged.
The clause, under the UNHCR system, does not allow claims for refugee status after verification by the agency that there are no conditions in the country of origin that qualify for UN protection.
“It was agreed during a tripartite meeting between officials from Rwanda, Uganda and the UNHCR, that by the end of next year, the cessation clause will be applied,” Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda, Frank Mugambage, said in an interview recently.
The envoy said that following the meeting in which the officials visited new arrivals of Rwandan refugees, there was general consensus that there was no reason for them to seek refuge in Uganda.
“As we met the refugees in the presence of all parties, they didn’t have any issues to present. So, the Ugandan government has not granted them asylum, it was simply decided to look at the logistics and how they can be repatriated,” he said.
State Minister for Community Development and Social Affairs, Christine Nyatanyi, last year told reporters that government had requested the UNHCR to apply the Cessation Clause on Rwandan refugees as far back as 2002.
Mugambage explained that Rwanda is not only stable, but also on a path to prosperity and that it has institutions that manage any issue that a citizen could have.
But before the UNHCR clause goes into force, Mugambage said that it was agreed that both countries (Rwanda and Uganda) embark on a mobilization exercise of those currently in refugee camps to return home.
“Quite many have gone back home, the diehards who may still be there for various reasons continue to be mobilized. But once the clause applies, even other countries will not be giving asylum to Rwandan refugees.”
Mugambage said that there are refugees from neighboring countries who purport to be coming from Rwanda just in pursuit of land.