Rwanda has promised to ensure its citizens living in Uganda as refugees integrate with the local community if they are unwilling to return home.
Seraphine Mukantabana, the Rwanda minister for refugee affairs and disaster management says that her government will provide such people with all the necessary documentation to help them integrate in the local community in Uganda.
According to Mukantabana those eligible to benefit from the program for integration into the Ugandan community include people who fled the country between 1959 and 1998 since they have no reason to be considered refugees.
She argues that conditions under, which they fled the country no longer exist. Mukantabana however, says those willing to voluntarily return home, will be repatriated and resettled by the government to all them contribute to the development of their country.
Meeting Rwandan refugees at Nakivale Settlement Camp in Isingiro district on Wednesday, Mukantabana said her government seeks to end the refugee era among her citizens, who she had endured harsh conditions in settlement camps in Uganda and other countries. She assured the Rwanda refugees that once they leave settlement camps and return home or integrate with the Ugandan community, they will leave a stable life and plan for the children’s future.
However, some refugees are not happy with the move arguing that it should have covered all Rwandese regardless of the year they fled their country.
Emma Hahyambere, one of the affected Rwandan refugees says once he is stripped off his refugee status he will relocate to another country instead of going back to Rwanda. Habyambere’s biggest fear is how to co-exist with people who allegedly wiped out his entire family during the 1994 genocide. Catherine Mutoni another refugee says she doesn’t feel comfortable returning home because of reasons well known to her.
Mutoni, who is married to a Rwandese national with Ugandan citizenship, says she will think of an alternative once stripped off her status rather than return to Rwanda.
Darglus Asiimwe, the Uganda senior refugee protection officer says the move to stripe Rwandese of their refugee status which is a U.N led process has been long overdue. He explains that UN embarked on the process after realizing that the different events that forced some of the refugees to flee their country are no longer applicable.
According to the UN, the exercise will affect 4,400 out of the 15.000 Rwandese refugees living in Nakivale, Kyaka, Kyangwali and Kampala amongst other areas.