DAR ES SALAAM, 19 February (IRIN)
- Following a tripartite meeting between the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the governments of Rwanda and
Tanzania, it was announced that the remaining 2,000 Rwandan refugees in
Tanzanian camps will leave "within two weeks", officials said
At the meeting, held on 13 February, it was agreed that there would be a period of two weeks for "sensitising" the remaining refugees on the situation in Rwanda in order to try and persuade them that it is safe for them to return, UNHCR told IRIN.
"We are satisfied with the agreement, because it takes into account the individual situations of the asylum seekers," Ivana Unluova, the UNHCR spokeswoman in Dar es Salaam, said. "There will still be certain groups that are allowed to remain in Tanzania, if they can prove their case."
Unluova said these included refugees due to be resettled in a third country, Rwandans who had married Tanzanians and those who had special protection concerns. Meanwhile, those who wished to return, would do so, supported by UNHCR.
The Tanzanian home affairs ministry, which has been pushing strongly for the repatriation, believes that it is safe for the Rwandans to return.
"The government of Rwanda has reassured us and, having seen the real situation for ourselves, we are satisfied that this is the case," Omar Ramadhani Mapuri, the new home affairs minister, told IRIN on Wednesday. He said anyone who did not fall into any of the special categories would be treated as an ordinary immigrant.
"After the two weeks, we will have the liberty to lift the refugee status, and the normal immigration laws of Tanzania would apply," he said.
He said that, contrary to some beliefs, intermarriage between Tutsis and Hutus was not a problem, "but an advantage as you are protected by both sides", and that the Rwandans remaining in the camps for fear of being accused of having taken part in the genocide should return, "as there are good arrangements" in Rwanda for those who acknowledged their role.
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