Rwandan refugees in Uganda have expressed their will to be repatriated in the quickest time possible but the UNHCR is delaying the process of registering those willing to go home, officials have claimed.
The accusations against the UN refugee body were made by Innocent Ngango, the official in charge of refugees in the Ministry of Local Government during his visit to several refugee camps in Uganda.
He was accompanied by District Mayors of Gatsibo, Kirehe and Nyagatare.
At least 20,000 Rwandan refugees are reported to be living is different camps in Uganda.
Speaking on phone from Uganda, Ngango said; “we have met a big number of refugees who told us that they have the will to go home but the UNHCR is delaying the process of those who want to return.”
He added that UNHCR’s delays are frustrating the exercise as the deadline of repatriation is quickly approaching.
The UNHCR, Rwanda and Uganda had set July 31 as the repatriation deadline but since the process started, only 3,000 refugees have been repatriated.
Ngango said that there is a possibility of missing the deadline because of continued frustration from the UNHCR.
“Upon arrival in Kigali, we will present to the government what we have found in the camps and advise another alternative,” Ngango said. “They (refugees) want to come but they are not being facilitated.” Ngango said.
Speaking from the camps in Uganda, Vianney Murego, the Mayor of Gatsibo District said that their meetings with the refugees were very fruitful since refugee got time to talk to the leaders who will serve them directly.
“Most of their questions centred on how they will be resettled. We explained to them several privileges they are entitled to upon entry in Rwanda and this excited them more.” Murego said.
Currently most of the refugees are spread in the two main camps of Nakivale and Nshungerezi in South Western Uganda.
The decision to repatriate them was reached early this year during a tripartite meeting between the governments of Rwanda and Uganda and the UNHCR.