Reports from various sources indicate that more than 600 Rwandan refugees living in Namibia are feared missing.
KT Press could not independently confirm the authenticity of the reports, but the Chines News Agency, Xinhua, said it spoke to Namibia’s Commissioner for Refugees, Nkrumah Mushelenga, on Thursday about the case.
That “of the total 6,100 refugees and asylum seekers [from different countries] in the country, the whereabouts of 2,354 are not known.”
Most of the refugees and asylum seekers, according to Xinhua, were accommodated at Osire Refugee Camp, about 218 kilometers from the capital Windhoek. It is said that there are 862 Rwandan refugees of which 643 “are feared to be on the run.”
The Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), Mukantabana Seraphine, has told KT Press this evening that she is not aware of the matter.
But she added that, “We need to know how they disappeared, because they could have moved progressively and not at ago.”
She said that refugees are entitled to free movement (especially in SADAC), therefore “they could have moved to [Namibia’s] neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe looking for either business opportunities or a better life.”
Reports say more than 2, 000 refugees have not been reporting to verification centers. Namibian authorities thus conclude, “They might be on the run.”
In fact, Mushelenga was quoted calling for their arrest, when found. Although reports say there are over 800 refugees in Namibia, MIDMAR is not aware of the exact number.
What is known though, is that by June, 2014, there were more than 83,000 Rwandan refugees registered with the UNHCR around the world.
Earlier before speaking to Minister Mukantabana, the Permanent Secretary in the same ministry, Antoine Ruvebana told KT Press that the number could be even more, because some refugees never register with UNCHR.
“Look at the case of Burundian refugees in Rwanda”, he said. “As of May 2015, the number of registered Burundian refugees has reached twenty seven thousands [27,000], but we know there many others here in Kigali who are not registered.”
Apparently, KT Press has leant that the UN is seeking $207 million to protect up to 200,000 Burundian refugees.
Meanwhile, on June 30, 2013, Rwanda declared a cessation clause for Rwandan refugees who fled the country between 1959 and December 1998.
Countries hosting Rwandan refugees were called on to declare them or abide by the clause demanding for their repatriation. (See copy of the clause here).
Since then Zambia, Malawi, DR Congo, Burundi, Niger and Zimbabwe have invoked the cessation clause. Namibia has not.
But, Rwanda is employing different measures to ensure the return of Rwandans, including sending suitors to encourage and help them get back home. (Read government repatriation program here)
Transit camps have been established in the Western Province to receive returnees and provide them with basic facilities to begin a new life.
Rwanda has collaborated with UNHCR and WFP, to register returnees and donate a three-month repatriation stipend, which includes food and other basics.
The stipend offered by UNHCR is worth $100 for adults and $50 for children.
The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR) told KT Press earlier this year that 3,456,429 registered Rwandan refugees have returned home between 1994 and December 2014.
About 47% (1,625,869) came from DR Congo, 27% (922,655 ) from Tanzania, 16% (553,118) from Burundi, 10% (349,838) from Uganda. Others came from Gabon, Malawi, Zambia, Congo Brazzavile, Cameroon, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, among other countries.