NAKIVALE/NSHUNGEREZI - Some Rwandan refugees living in Nakivale and Nshungerezi camps in Uganda, are fleeing the camps to escape being repatriated back home, The New Times has learnt.
The refugees have been living in Uganda since the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
The development unfolds after a recent tripartite announcement by the governments of Uganda, Rwanda and the UNHCR, the UN body that settled them in Nakivale Refugee Settlement Camp, jointly announced that there was no reason they should continue staying in Uganda when there is stability in Rwanda.
But upon hearing the repatriation news, the refugees reportedly started vanishing from the camps escaping to other districts.
When contacted yesterday, Local Government Minister, Protais Musoni, confirmed the development.
“We have heard these claims that refugees are vanishing from the camps to unknown places. We hear some are running towards Kasese District in Western Uganda,” Musoni said. He added that some refugees were claiming to be Congolese.
“But we are also getting calls from those who want to come back home voluntarily,” added Minister Musoni.
Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, Ugandan Minister for Relief and Disaster Preparedness told The New Times in a telephone interview yesterday, that authorities in Kampala had arrested some refugees who were trying escape.
“We are investigating the matter. We are sensitizing and telling them why it’s important for them to return home. Rwanda is a stable country,” Kabwegyere explained.
According to Kabwegyere, some refugees were escaping to neighbouring Tanzania. He also said some refugees were frustrating the repatriation exercise by discouraging their colleagues not to return home.
“Many are willing to go back home,” Kabwegyere revealed.
The Rwanda and Ugandan governments agreed to repatriate all refugees living in Uganda by July 30, 2009.
Minister Musoni said Kigali was expecting about 30 refugees at Gatuna border yesterday.
The New Times could not by press time independently verify claims that some Ugandan local officials were helping refugees escape.