New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda, Rwanda Sign Agreement On Refugees

The governments of Rwanda and Uganda have signed an agreement to quicken the process of repatriation or reintegration of Rwandan refugees in Uganda.

According to the UN cessation clause on refugees, all Rwandan refugees who fled into the country between 1959 and 1998 should have all been repatriated back home or reintegrated by June 30, 2013.

However Uganda has not implemented the clause due to the absence of an enabling law.

Rwandan minister for Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs, Seraphine Mukantabana says there are over 4000 Rwandan refugees living in Uganda.

"There is no reason why Rwandan refugees should still be in Uganda. They should all go back home. Those who qualify to remain should be reintegrated into the communities and then we close the chapter," she said.

The minister expressed gratitude to the Ugandan government for hosting Rwandan refugees for many years since 1959.

During the regional meeting on Rwandan refugees' situation that convened in Pretoria, South Africa, all asylum countries including Uganda unanimously agreed to implement the repatriation strategy, she pointed out.

"However due to some practical constraints and legal lacuna, it was opted that the process be delayed to allow time to pursue the implementation of other components especially local integration and alternative legal status,"

Uganda's disaster preparedness and refugees minister Hillary Onek told the team that his ministry has prepared a cabinet paper which will be presented to cabinet for discussion relating to issues of legal ambiguities surrounding local integration.

He stressed the need to doubt the efforts to facilitate voluntary repatriation for those that want to return.

"We want to close that chapter but unfortunately the laws we have do not adequately address this process."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative, Mohamed Adar hailed Uganda allowing in refugees who also include some 60,000 refugees from DR Congo.

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