This week, we celebrated the world refugees’ day. Just a few nations understand the plight of refugees. For instance, in Rwanda, a vast part of our population has lived in exile in the past. Even though, the country is chocker-block full, we have accepted some 70,000 Congolese refugees who are housed in three main camps.
Another 50,000-100,000 other refugees have settled and integrated. For example, in Nyamirambo, a Kigali suburb, it is common to see Mauritanians, Senegalese, Gabonese, and so many others going about their work.
The issue of refugees in camps is still pressing and Rwanda wants to close these camps soon. The flipside to this is the 50,000 Rwandans left in Uganda as refugees from 1994- this issue must be settled once and for all.
A peaceful country should not have anyone classified as a refugee. Many nations in the third world are classified as sources of refugees when they are not. In this age when the numbers of refugees will increase as population pressures grow, it is important to classify these people.
If Rwandans wish to stay abroad or outside, then they must be allowed to do so legally and not have to resort to claiming refugee status.
There are up to 150 million refugees and displaced people globally. That is a country the size of Brazil; the number is higher if you count the long-term displaced.
This century will see wars not over oil but water. This planet is projected to have a population of 50 billion by the end of the century, which we may not be able to support.
We are already seeing the effects of climate change driving the refugee problem. Darfur is an example of a depleted eco-system descending into war.
Northern Kenya and Uganda tribes are warring because of drought. Even here in Rwanda, we are seeing vast variations in our climate, our rains are coming later and lighter.
Hard times in the villages lead to increased rural-urban migration and creation of slums.
Globally, the number of refugees will rise this year due to the effects of the Arab revolutions. But it might also lead to an exodus back to those countries.
When I look at the friends I left in the Diaspora, I wonder what it will take to get them back home.
Life is complicated. People marry or inter-marry, and get comfortable in their new surroundings. It is not easy to come back.
I don’t think I am fully integrated after four years back but I feel at home. From my experience, you have to have enough; you have to get fed up with the cold, the grinding life, monotony and callousness of the West.
Being a refugee is a state of mind more than a geographical location. When my father’s generation had had enough, they fought for four years to come home. Luckily, today people are free to return.
Maybe bad memories hold them back, or they are comfortable where they are but somewhere in Rwanda, somebody loves them and misses them. Home is always the best.