Government officials will soon travel to Malawi for talks on repatriation of Rwandan refugees who remain in the south-east African country.
Officials from the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs said government will use this platform to explain to Malawi the process of voluntary repatriation, which the former insist is facilitated by UN refugee agency.
This comes after reports that the Malawian government would require 500 million Malawian kwacha (about Rwf980 million) to repatriate the 500 refugees.
“It’s the UNHCR that facilitates transportation of the refugees, not the Malawian government. However, we intend to visit the country and explain all the issues related to the repatriation of refugees,” Antoine Ruvebana, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, said yesterday.
Ruvebana said they have been to all other countries hosting Rwandan refugees and only Malawi was remaining, adding that it will help to clarify to Lilongwe officials about the matter.
The Malawian Home Affairs minister, Uladi Mussa, was quoted recently as saying that his country was constrained by resources to carry out the exercise.
“Malawi will need to raise 500 million kwasha to repatriate Rwandan refugees as part of UN High Commission for Refugees’ Cessation Clause that came into effect on June 30 this year,” he said.
“What other countries have done is to charter planes and for us to do that, we will need financial resources.”
Most of Rwandan refugees live in Dzaleka camp, about 50 kilometres from Malawian capital Lilongwe. Dzaleka Refugee Camp was set up by UNHCR in 1994 to accommodate refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo.
The voluntary repatriation is part of the UN cessation clause that came into force on June 30.
The invocation of the clause left Rwandan refugees with options for voluntary repatriation, seeking formal local integration or seeking renewal of refugee status– for those still interested international protection.
About 4.5 million Rwandans have so far returned home since 1994.
An estimated 100,000 refugees remain in Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique, Congo, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.