Friday, 19 April 2013

Government To Issue Passports For All Rwandan Refugees

Government to issue passports for all Rwandan refugees
Rwanda Day in Boston, U.S., September 22, 2012: President Kagame receives enthusiastic welcome from the Rwandan community in North America (Photos: PPU/Flickr)

Rwanda has told a UN conference reviewing the status of Rwandan refugees living in different countries that it will provide them with national documents so they seize to be called “refugees”.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR and countries hosting Rwanda refugees agreed in December 2011 that the refugees would no longer be called so after June 31, 2013. Among the options provided was repatriation back to Rwanda and local integration in host countries.
At a Ministerial meeting in Pretoria (South Africa) on April 18, Rwanda renewed its desire to have all refugees choosing their country. However, considering that most of the refugees have established their lives in host countries, it will not be necessary to return to Rwanda.
“Rwanda’s delegation outlined a number of steps it has taken and will continue to implement to support the respective solutions,” said UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards, a press briefing on Friday in Geneva.
These include issuing national passports for Rwandans who opt to stay in their current host countries.
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The first Ministerial meeting on the Strategy, in Geneva on 9 December 2011, had agreed with a recommendation for States to consider giving effect to the so-called cessation clauses of refugee status as of 30 June 2013. Cessation clauses are built into the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1969 Organization of African Unity Refugee Convention.
They provide for refugee status to end once fundamental and durable changes have taken place in the country of origin and the circumstances that led to flight no longer exist. This is the case with Rwandan refugees who left the country in periods when there was different nature of challenges.
The 1994 genocide against Tutsis and its aftermath and armed clashes in northwestern Rwanda in 1997 and 1998 – the last time the country experienced generalized violence – produced more than 3.5 million Rwandan refugees.
Most have since returned to Rwanda, including recently, 12,000 mainly from Democratic Republic of Congo. An estimated 100,000 Rwandan refugees remain in exile.
With the issuance of Rwanda national documents, the status of the affected people would change to nationals living in the diaspora. This means that they could be invited on regular basis to visit and invest in their homeland.
Since 2003 when the national dialogue conference was introduced, delegations from the Diaspora have attended. Various programs have been put in place to facilitate Rwandans living outside to remain in constant contact with their country.
The South Africa meet had delegations from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
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