The Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi, is in Mozambique to sensitise Rwandan refugees about the benefits of returning home.
Another delegation of government officials from the ministry also left yesterday for Kampala while another will depart for Cameroon today, all on a similar mission to encourage nationals to voluntarily repatriate.
According to Antoine Ruvebana, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, the delegations are expected to not only persuade refugees to return, but also inform them about the cessation clause that will be invoked at the end of this year.
“We have officials who have gone to various countries. What they will basically do is to sensitise the refugees on voluntary repatriation, and how the government helps in reintegrating the returnees,” he said.
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.
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.
According to the UNHCR statistics, Cameroon hosts 1,535 Rwandan refugees and 133 asylum seekers requesting to be considered as refugees.
Mozambique has 820 refugees and 397 asylum seekers.
The UN agency also indicates that in Uganda, there are about 12,590 Rwandan nationals living as refugees while 3,430 are in a process of acquiring asylum.
Recently, the government initiated a campaign to invite Rwandan refugees to witness the current situation at home and go back to sensitise their colleagues to repatriate, a scheme that has led to thousands of Rwandans voluntarily returning.