Cessation clause declaration expected today

The government is in negotiations with the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to activate the Cessation Clause. If declared, it will be implemented effective June 30. The clause was initially supposed to be implemented on December 31, this year.
Minister Marcel Gatsinzi
Minister Marcel Gatsinzi

The government is in negotiations with the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to activate the Cessation Clause. If declared, it will be implemented effective June 30. The clause was initially supposed to be implemented on December 31, this year.

The UNHCR Cessation Clause stipulates that, after its implementation a person recognized as a refugee must either voluntarily return to the country of origin or apply for residence in the host country.

In an interview with The New Times, the Minister of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs, Gen. Marcel Gatsinzi, confirmed that the Rwandan Ambassador to Switzerland, Soline Nyirahabimana, will today meet UN officials to discuss the issue.

“Our Ambassador in Geneva has told us that she is in negotiations with the UN refugee agency  to decide on the declaration of the Cessation Clause”, he said. He added that the Government was also in contact with the UNHCR Country Representative on the same issue.

During the recent ninth tripartite meeting between Uganda, Rwanda and UNHCR in Kigali, the UNHRC Country Representative, Neimah Warsame, noted the extension of the implementation of the clause would not affect scheduled declaration timing.

“There is no change of policy in terms of the declaration of the Cessation Clause. However, for purposes of preparedness, the UNHCR recognizes that more time is needed to create the necessary space to consolidate solutions for refugees in countries of asylum,” she said.

Efforts to get a comment from UNHCR officials in the country were futile as their phones were off.

An estimated 70,000 Rwandans live as refugees in different parts of the world, while more than 3.4 million have voluntarily repatriated since 1994. 

African countries that host the majority of Rwandan refugees are Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi Kenya and South Africa.

The Cessation Clause is invoked after UNHCR has concluded that reasons that led people to becoming refugees were no more and that the socio-economic conditions in the country of origin had changed for the better.

However, the declaration does not prevent individuals applying for fresh refugee status, but in that case, the outcome is entirely dependent on the judgment of the recipient country.

eric.kabeera@newtimes.co.rw 

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