The United Nations Agency for Refugees has extended the implementation of the cessation clause to June 30 next year.
The clause was supposed to be implemented on December 31, this year.
This was announced by UNHCR country representative Neimah Warsame during the closure of the ninth tripartite meeting between Uganda, Rwanda and UNHCR in Kigali, that was held to discuss modalities of the voluntary repatriation of refugees residing in Uganda.
The UNHCR representative, however, said that there is no change in declaration of the cessation clause.
“There is no change of policy in terms of the declaration of the Cessation Clauses, however for the purposes of preparedness, UNHCR recognises that more time is needed to create the necessary space to consolidate solutions for refugees in countries of asylum,” she said.
Warsame noted that the added time will also help them to adequately prepare for what is evidently a complex exemption exercise to identify refugees that need international protection.
“We realised that it entails a lot of work for the clause to be implemented. It is our belief that this adjustment will now give us required timelines to complete the implementation of the cessation clause in an effective manner.”
The UNHCR 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, 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.
In an interview, the Minister of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs, Marcel Gatsinzi, agreed to the extension of the cessation clause implementation saying that ample time was needed to learn about all the intricacies of the clause.
The minister is currently in Geneva Switzerland at UNHCR headquarters to further discuss the invocation of cessation clause.
During the Kigali meeting, the two countries and UNHCR agreed to put in place clear practical modalities for the comprehensive implementation of the cessation clause not later than 31 October 2011.
The meeting also recommended that the two governments continue with bilateral mechanisms to facilitate the return of persons as well as identify refugees from different places of origin in Rwanda to participate in the “Go and See” and “Come and Tell” visits.