A significant number of Rwandan refugees living in different camps of Uganda has failed to meet the July 31 deadline of voluntarily returning home.
Those close to this exercise say the refugees were hoodwinked by some elements within these camps keen on vilifying and mudslinging the significant steps that this nation has moved.
Specifically, the refugees were ill advised that should they return home, their lives will be in danger. The beauty about statistics is that they vindicate such ill intended distortions.
If one is to give credit where it’s due, then the present administration should be lauded for its systematic campaign to make any Rwandan a refugee no more. Those who fled this nation at different times have been mobilised to return home and they have heeded to this call in millions.
If we recall well, one of the famous photos used globally to show the plight of refugees is a photo showing a sea of Rwandans, carrying their belongings and matching in files returning from the former Republic of Zaire.
The timing of this mass return was significant. It happened when the political situation was still turbulent and when the socio-economic fabric was still in limbo. But despite the prevailing conditions, the government in its shaky form took it as a priority to ensure that no Rwandan is left at the mercy of humanitarian organisations but rather return home.
It was a new political ploy, completely opposite of the preceding regime. Ever since then, millions of Rwandans have been repatriated and are happily settled in their nation.
Now to read that some refugees, especially in neighbouring Uganda, are not keen on returning given how well refugee question has been managed is simply mind boggling.
The 1951 Convention relating to Status of Refugees says that a refugee is “a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country.”
Now powerful countries like Canada have recognised that this “persecution” is something mythical for Rwanda and have scrapped the nation from the list of countries deemed “too dangerous” for failed asylum seekers to be returned.
What other testimony do these refugees in our neighbouring country want? They should simply return or cease to be called refugees.