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Rwanda, Zambia and UNHCR join hands to find durable solutions for former Rwandan refugees in Zambia

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The Government of Rwanda, The Republic of Zambia and UNHCR have vowed to engage coordinated efforts in order to find durable solutions for about 4,000 of Rwandans in Zambia who lost refugees status following the invocation of the Cessation Clause in June 2013.

The three parties reiterated their commitment as they winded up a two-day tripartite meeting held in Kigali on 24-25 March 2015.

At the occasion of the tripartite Meeting, the Zambian delegation led by Deputy Minister of Home affairs Lft. Col. Kaunda Tushuke Panji visited different parts of Rwanda to witness the current situation in the country so that they may sensitize former refugees to voluntary repatriation.

The Zambian delegation also came with four representatives of refugees with the aim to let them visit the country and go back to tell their counterparts the true story they witnessed.

“What we saw will make our job very easy. We shall tell Rwandan refugees who left the Country in 1994 that today Rwanda is in 2015. There has been remarkable progress especially in unity and reconciliation, then they have to come back and join others to build their country” said Minister Kaunda.

This meeting was a follow-up to the bilateral meeting that took place on the 4th and 5th of July 2013 in Lusaka.

During this meeting, the Zambian delegation informed that the total population of Rwandan refugees and former Rwandan refugees in Zambia is made up of 6,091 individuals. The cessation clause in Zambia affects about 4000 former Rwandan refugees who fled Rwanda between 1959 and 1998. According to the Zambian government, 733 out of the 4,000 have various immigration permits.

The Zambian Government reaffirmed its commitment to provide local integration for former Rwandan refugees who need to stay in Zambia. However, it stressed that having a Rwandan passport is prerequisite for their local integration.

The meeting agreed to enhance communication and sensitization campaigns with the former Rwandan refugees to assist them in deciding either to repatriate or to apply for local integration in compliance with the Zambian laws.

The Government of Rwanda reaffirmed its commitment to welcome back home all its nationals who opt for voluntary repatriation and further reiterated its readiness to contribute to the local integration process in Zambia, through the provision of passports for those who opt for local integration.

“ all coordinated efforts engaged for the termination of refugees’ status for Rwandan refugees don’t intend to destabilize them, however, we all need to restore the dignity that Rwandans have been deprived of by carrying refugee label for decades, because there is no privilege in being called a refugee” stressed Rwanda Minister of Disaster Management and Refugees affairs Mukantabana Seraphine.

UNHCR pledged its effective support to assist both governments to achieve the resolutions adopted during this tripartite Meeting.