Government should, if necessary, provide the logistics necessary for repatriating Rwandan refugees currently in Uganda, Nyagatare mayor Robert Kashemeza has said.
Kashemeza was speaking to The Sunday Times following a trip by three mayors and officials from the ministry of local government to the refugee camps hosting Rwandan refugees.
He said that the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is not doing enough to ensure that the deadline of July 31 which was set for all refugees in Uganda to have returned home is met.
The deadline was set by a tripartite meeting between Uganda Rwanda and UNHCR.
He said that they are going to recommend that “If need arises, Rwanda government can provide the manpower to register people who want to return home” adding that “If need be Rwanda government can also provide transport.”
He also noted that most of the registration centres are very far away from where the refugees live.
“We think UNHCR is not doing enough to register those who want to come home.”
Kashemeza also said that the Mayors will recommend that “ urgent meeting be held to review and discuss these problems” before the deadline.
He noted that majority of the refugees want to return home but have been given wrong information by some negative elements, revealing that some of the refugees have been told that they were sentenced by Gacaca courts in their absence.
The mayors noted that there are some who may have committed crimes during the Genocide against the Tutsi and are holding the rest hostage by way of misinforming them about life in Rwanda.
Kashemeza said that on the issue of Genocide crimes preventing some from returning, “We had to convince them but tell the truth,” adding, “We told them that there can never be impunity.”
He said that they told the refugees that they better come home and if they have cases, be present and let justice take its course, adding that being outside Rwanda can not stop one from being brought to justice if they are suspected of crimes.
Innocent Ngango, the officer in charge of refugees in the Ministry of Local government, said that of the estimated 20,000 refugees in Uganda 3000 have already returned home.
He said that they choose mayors to visit the refugees because they are the ones who receive them upon returning.
He revealed that the mayors explained to the refugees governance, social and economic issues in the country adding that “we also wanted them to answer personal issues,” for the refugees.
The other district mayors on the delegation were Gatsibo Mayor, Vianney Murego, and Kirehe Mayor Protais Murayire.
From last Monday to Friday, they visited the refugees in Nakivale, Orukinga, and Kyaka 2 refugee camps in Western Uganda.