11 December 2012

Rwanda: Appeal to Refugees As Cessation Clause Draws Nearer

Government, in collaboration with countries hosting Rwandan refugees as well as the United Nations, has continued to sensitise all Rwandan refugees around the world to voluntarily return home before the Cessation Clause comes into effect.

The communication officer in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Fredric Ntawukuriryayo, said that a delegation led by the director in charge of Refugees at the ministry Jean Claude Rwahama recently visited refugees in camps in Uganda.

"The sensitisation campaign is going on in Nakivale and Kyaka camps in Uganda where the refugees are sensitised on how the government helps those who voluntarily decide to return home as well as the impending Cessation Clause and its impact on the refugees that might not have retuned home by the time it comes into effect," he told The New Times.

The campaign began on December 9 and will end on December 15.

He added that more campaigns were expected in other countries in the near future.

Statistics indicate that over 3.4 million refugees have returned to the country since 1994.

African countries hosting most of the Rwandan refugees are Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and South Africa.

Uganda is said to be home to over 16,000 Rwandan refugees who reside in Nakivale, Kiryandongo, Kyangwari, and Kyaka II camps all in the country's west Uganda, as well as Oruchinga in the south of the country.

In November 2012, a tripartite agreement was signed in Kigali between Uganda, Rwanda and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to facilitate voluntary repatriation of the refugees.

In early January 2012, UNHCR approved the invocation of the Cessation Clause by June 30, 2013.

According to the UNHCR, declaration of the cessation clause stipulates that a person recognised as a refugee will either voluntarily return to the country of origin or apply for residence in the host country. The refugees could be naturalised if they meet the criteria in the laws of the host country.

The Cessation Clause does not allow claims for refugee status after verification by the UN refugee agency that there are no conditions in the country of origin that qualify for UN protection.

However, the declaration of the clause does not prevent individuals to apply for refugee status. In this case, the recipient country will have to analyse individual cases that may warrant the continuation of international protection.

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