KIGALI-As the deadline for the Cessation Clause on Rwandan refugees nears, all media practitioners in the country are advised to play a positive role to lead to the realisation of the clause.
The advice was given by Neimah Warsame, country representative of United High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) while addressing a media workshop where journalists gathered to discuss their role towards the realisation of the clause.
She cautioned that unless all the stakeholders are involved in the process, the clause cannot be achieved.
“There is no doubt about what Rwanda has done in repatriation of refugees and reintegration. It has done great .But you will kill the cessation clause if you do not report the facts,” she warned.
“The more we all do to facilitate factual information, the higher will be the repatriation. Help the refugees to make a well informed decision about their return”.
It is believed that some local media houses have falsely been reporting on the cessation clause in what UNHCR says is distortion of the whole concept of the clause.
According to the UNHCR, declaration of the cessation clause stipulates that a person recognised as a refugee, will either voluntarily return to the country of origin or apply for residence in the host country.
It continues to say that refugees could naturalised when they meet the criteria stipulated in the citizenship law of the host country.
Christina Planas, the deputy representative UNHCR noted that media could assist, especially in interviewing the already repatriated nationals to know their current status, adding this could help the refugees to receive more information about the country.
“Video documentaries and radio interviews to the returnees that have been reintegrated will be good for refugees in the countries hosting them”.
It was also discussed that some returnees continue to speak about their reintegration on phones with friends and relatives in exile as many have repatriated using the same method.
The Director General in charge of Refugees Affair in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee affairs Jean Claude Rwahama acknowledged that it was prudent to engage the media in the process to disseminate more information to refugees.
“There is peace, but some Rwandans lack information about the current situation in the country. That’s why we decided to have this media workshop for the journalists to help us in achieving the clause,” he noted.
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.
However, the declaration of the clause does not prevent individuals applying for refugee status and in this case, the recipient country will have to analyse individual cases that may warrant the continuation of international protection.
It is believed that about 70,000 Rwandans still live as refugees.