Rwandans will still be allowed to repatriate after the Cessation Clause has come into effect on December 31, 2017, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs, said yesterday.
Speaking at a news conference, ahead of the deadline, the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs, De Bonheur Jeanne d’Arc said however there will be no reintegration packages for those who will return home after December 31.
Up to 84,596 Rwandans have been repatriated since 2009 and supported to be well integrated in the Rwandan society.
78 per cent of them came from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo that hosts the majority Rwandan refugees.
“With the cessation clause coming into force in a week’s time, Rwandans still living in foreign countries as refugees are encouraged to repatriate before that date. If they can’t due to different activities they are carrying out in host countries, they are advised to look for necessary documents enabling them to legally live in those countries as Rwandans,” said minister De Bonheur.
Considering the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) statistics, more than 20,000 Rwandans are still living as refugees in countries all over the world.
De Bonheur added that under the cessation clause, United Nations member states hosting Rwandan refugees have to comply with the declaration.
The Cessation Clause for Rwandan refugees was declared by the UNHCR on June 30, 2013. That clause applies to those who fled between 1959 and December 1998 and it nullifies refugee status for them, leaving them with two options of either repatriation or becoming naturalised citizens of the host countries.
“The government of Rwanda has facilitated them to obtain necessary documents like passports among others. They can obtain them through embassies and also through the online platforms of the Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration,” the minister said.
Reluctance in repatriation
The Director of Refugee Affairs Unit in the ministry, Jean Claude Rwahama, said that some refugees are reluctant to repatriate because they fear facing justice as some are suspected of having participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“They will be treated as illegal immigrants if they don’t legalise their situation in the host country. They will have to deal with migration officers, which we don’t want any Rwandan abroad to endure,” Rwahama said.
He added that some people threaten families that want to be repatriated.
In 2016, 5,781 Rwandan returnees from different countries repatriated and from January, 2017 up to yesterday 14,831 were received.
Some have been hosted through the transit centres including Nyarushishi in Rusizi District, Kijote in Nyabihu District and Nyanza reception centre in, Nyanza District.
The recently repatriated Rwandans received a one year health insurance, a three months food package, and $250 and 150 for adults and children, respectively.