Africa

Thousands Of Rwandan Refugees Refuse To Return Home

Only seven Rwandan families living in Congo have expressed their wish to return home while 4000 families want to remain there as refugees.

The Minister for Disaster Management and Refugees, Seraphine Mukantabana has assured the refugees that all is good and the government offers a transtional package to begin a new life.

Rwanda has built a transit camp to receive refugees returning from foreign countries.

Minister Mukantabana was addressing a Tripartite meeting on Monday, April 3, 2017 at Marriot Hotel in Kigali, between Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The meeting focused on evaluation and assessment of each partner’s role in fulfiling the recommendations of the tripartite conference held in September last year in Brazzaville to materialise the cessation clause for the Rwandan refugees who live in Congo.

The cessation clause for the Rwandan refugees whose deadline is December 31, 2017 has three conditions according to Antoinette Dinga Dzongo, the Minister of the Social Affairs in Congo.

The cessation clause concerns the Rwandan refugees who fled the country from 1959 to 1998.

The Congolese Minister of Social Affairs said that “There are three solutions, for the Rwandan refugees which are: the local integration, the voluntary repatriation and the exemption [For those who wish to remain with a refugee status] adding that “for every condition among the three, there are criteria that we are examining and every Rwandan refugee has the possibilities to choose among the three’’.

Dzongo said that the Government of Congo have received about 4000 demands from Rwandan families who want to remain as refugees and that “we have finished evaluating 3108 demands.’’

Honourable Cyr Modeste Kouame, the UNHCR Representative in Congo said that from 2013 when tripartite agreements were signed by Rwanda, Congo and UNHCR, less than 500 refugees have returned to Rwanda from Congo.

He said that, “provisional numbers show that seven individuals have expressed their wish to return voluntarily to Rwanda while 114 demanded for the local integration’’ and that “their demands are being studied and results will be announced later’’.

In a bid to rise the number of the Rwandan returnees, the UNHCR representative in Congo, Cyr Modeste Kwame said the UNHCR has increased funds the refugees are given when they return in their home country.

“We, as the UNCHR, have increased the `return money package’ from U$100 to U$250 for adults and from U$50 to $150 for the children to help them start a new life back in their country’’, explained Sire Modeste Kwame.

Minister Mukantabana said that “a long stay of the Rwandan population abroad as refugees is a loss’’. She said conditions have been improved back home to encourage and ensure Rwandan returnees receive a good start to a new life.

She said that “On our part as the Government of Rwanda, we have built the camp in Nyarushishi replacing the one in Nyagatare located in Rusizi District. The Nyarushishi Camp is the best in Africa and possibly the best in the world.”

Also, Kijute camp, that replaced Nkamira refugee Camp, has been improved to meet the worldwide standards of repatriates’ camps.

There are around 91,000 Rwandan refugees living in Congo and as the UNHCR Representative to Rwanda, Saber Azam said, “Refugees are assets, not burdens’’, adding that “Any country that leaves its refugees outside can’t fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals’’.

Photos by Pacific Himbaza 

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