African ministers to encourage Rwandan refugees to return

African countries hosting Rwandan refugees, on Thursday, promised to encourage voluntary repatriation before the Cessation Clause comes into effect.

African countries hosting Rwandan refugees, on Thursday, promised to encourage voluntary repatriation before the Cessation Clause comes into effect.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Cessation Clause will come into force on June 30.

African ministers in charge of refugees made the assurance during ameeting in Pretoria, South African, where Rwandan government officials provided information concerning the preparedness of implementing the Cessation Clause.

 In an interview with The New Times, yesterday, the Minister of Disaster preparedness and Refugees affairs, Seraphine Mukantabana, said though the countries were on right track to implementing the clause, she requested for more cooperation with Rwanda, especially in sensitisation campaigns.

“Most of the countries showed us that they are prepared for the Cessation Clause though they requested for our continued support in sensitisation process before the date and we are ready to help,” the minister, who led the Rwandan delegation alongside Amb. Vincent Karega , the Rwandan High Commissioner to South Africa said.

Roadmap

The meeting noted that Rwanda had registered tremendous socio-economic progress, and there was no genuine reason to justify continued status for Rwandan refugees.

The meeting recommended that due to different legal systems, refugee issues in different countries, numbers, every country will chart a roadmap, in collaboration with Rwanda through bilateral arrangements.

It was also agreed that, in collaboration with UNHCR, Rwanda will continue to speed up mechanisms of dialogue and sensitisation of refugees in various countries of asylum, to build the confidence of refugees and ensure more voluntary repatriation to happen in the forthcoming days.

Some governments have already pronounced their applicable criteria on the implementation of the Cessation Clause, and have already started. These were encouraged to proceed and should be good example for others that   are at initial stage.

The cessation clause stipulates that, after its implementation a person recognised as a refugee must either voluntarily return to the country of origin or apply for residence in the host country.

An estimated 70,000 Rwandans live as refugees in mainly African countries, while more than 3.4 million have voluntarily repatriated since 1994.

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