Editorial: There is no pride in remaining a refugee when the country’s doors are open

Rwandan refugees all over the world have just a month and a half before they lose their refugee status as the Cessation Clause comes into effect at the end of the year.

Rwandan refugees all over the world have just a month and a half before they lose their refugee status as the Cessation Clause comes into effect at the end of the year.

The Clause means that all those who fled between 1959 and 1998 will cease getting protection, either from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) or host countries.

Their only remaining options will be to either repatriate back home  or regularise their stay in their host countries but will need to get Rwandan immigration documents.

The Clause was first supposed to come into effect as far back as 2011, but subsequent hiccups caused the deadline to be extended several times. Now the decision is final; there will be no more extensions.

One can confidently deduce that most of those still holding out have something to fear; they, or their families, could have participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. But others have managed to establish themselves in their host countries and are reluctant to leave everything behind to start a new life.

The government has created a conducive environment to welcome and resettle returnees. They are given material and financial assistance to get back on their feet and their communities are on hand to help them along the way.

Life as a refugee is a condition one would not wish to befall another. Being stateless is no laughing matter. Testimonies of those who returned are evidence that life was not a walk in the park; it was an everyday struggle to survive.

The clock is ticking as the deadline approaches; there are no barriers in the way for those who seek to return to their motherland. As for those still adamant, let them pause a little and think the disservice they are doing to their offspring by denying them a chance to reconnect with or discover the land of their ancestors.

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