Rwandan refugees are responding positively to the call to repatriate ahead of December Secession Clause deadline, an official at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (Midimar) said.
More than 3.4 million refugees have repatriated since 1994, majority of them from Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Midimar figures, Rwanda experienced an influx of returnees, with more than 1 million in 1994 and hundreds thousands in the following 4 years.
The number of returnees varied between 39,000 and 5,000 annually between 1999 and 2015 when the Geneva Convention setting deadline for cessation clause was ratified.
According to the clause, every Rwandan refugee who will exceed December 31st without repatriating will lose refugee status.
While the graphic line has been going downward, the UN Refugee Agency indicates a slight increase last year, a scenario that might continue this year onward.
In 2015, UNHCR registered 5,053 returnees while in 2016, the agency registered 5,588 returnees.
“We are receiving refugees at an increase of 10% ahead of the cessation deadline. The increase has also been triggered by the incentives given to those repatriating,” Jean Claude Rwahama, Director of Refugee unit at the Midimar told KT Press.
The Government of Rwanda in partnership with UN Refugee Agency –HCR pay transport costs for returning Rwandans.
In new provisions, they also get monetary resettlement packages, with children getting $150 and adults $250.
The incentives, according to MIDMAR, will only last for the next three months before December deadline.
According to Rwahama, the ministry has held tripartite meetings with host countries and believes that December deadline will be successfully met.
For instance, he said, “We held tripartite talks with government officials from the Congo Brazzaville. We are sure the deadline will be met,” Rwahama told KT Press.
Meanwhile, DRC continued to be the main origin of returnees with 63,529 returnees between 2009 and 2017, followed by Uganda, 6,540 returnees.
Congo Brazaville and Malawi come on third and fourth position with 259 and 141 returnees.