Minister of disaster management and refugee affairs Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi, is in Zimbabwe to encourage Rwandan refugees in the Southern African country to return home,.
Gatsinzi left for Harare yesterday accompanied by a delegation of government officials and some returnees repatriated from Zimbabwe.
An advisor at the ministry, Capt Jean Damascene Kayitana, observed that the majority of refugees in Zimbabwe are unaware of the cessation clause, saying the aim of the minister’s visit was to sensitise the refugees about the issue.
The clause, under the UNHCR system, stipulates that no Rwandan living abroad will qualify for refugee status after 31 December 2011 and 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.
Statistics from a 2009 United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) report indicates that, Zimbabwe harbours approximately over 377 Rwandans with the majority living in Tongogara Refugee camp located in the south-western part of the country. The rest are scattered in the country’s urban areas.
Last year, Zimbabwe government promised to repatriate all Rwandan nationals by December 2011 after the UNHCR declared Rwanda safe for refugees to return.
“Like any other country in the region, Zimbabwe will soon embark on repatriation of Rwandan refugees by December 31 2011.” Zimbabwean Minister of Public Service and Social Welfare Paurina Mpariwa, was quoted during celebrations to mark the World Refugees’ Day.
According to the Ministry of disaster management and refugee affairs, a total of 70,000 Rwandan refugees live in variouscountries, mainly in the DRC.
Recently, the government adopted the “Come and See” campaign, where Rwandan refugees are invited to witness the current situation at home and go back to sensitise their colleagues to repatriate.
There are about 5,000 refugees in Zimbabwe mainly from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia and Liberia.
The delegation is due home tomorrow. The minister will later tour Cameroon, South Africa and Uganda on a similar mission.