As the implementation of the cessation clause on Rwandan refugees nears, the number of those returning home continues to rise. Just yesterday, 121 refugees residing in DRC were welcomed home by senior officials of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs.
Among the repatriated, 42 were women, 19 men while 60 were children. The refugees lived in different parts in Congo including Masisi,Rutshuru,Kalehe,Walikale,Goma and Kinshasa.
They had been reluctant to return home due to misinformation from disgruntled colleagues, that government would suppress and kill them.
Jean Claude Rwahama, the officer in charge refugees affairs in the ministry, welcomed the refugees, adding that their return follows a sensitisation campaign that paints a true picture of the country to the refugees.
They also get information from their relatives and friends who returned and were reintegrated.
“There are some who are misinformed about the current situation in Rwanda, but when they get in touch with their colleagues who returned earlier, they obtain the correct information, that’s why they voluntarily return home,” he said in interview.
According to Rwahama, the returnees informed government’s officials that they decided to return because of messages they had received from Radio Okapi in DRC and Radio Rwanda on how the government seeks to reintegrate and assist the returnees to lead a better life.
The former refugees further noted that they were living miserably in DRC, adding that they could not continue yet their country is peacefull.
The returnees, who are currently housed at the Nyagatare Transit Camp, were offered basic repatriation packages that included food and various materials to help them as the government prepares to reintegrate them in their former communities.
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.
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 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.