More than 240 Rwandan refugees residing in Zimbabwe will be sent back to their country by March 31 as government moves to comply with the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees.
The Cessation Clause on Rwandan refugees which came into effect on 31 December mean that all nationals of the East African country seeking refuge will no longer be recognized as their country is now deemed peaceful.
Speaking after meeting the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Country Rep, Robert Tibagwa, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Petronella Kagonye said government is finalizing the legal processes for the Cessation Clause and once done, the refugees will be asked to go back home.
“Since Rwanda is a peaceful country, the United Nations has declared that the refugees are free to go back to their country.
“Its now up to our government to either declare the cessation or not. We are now in the final stages of declaring that cessation. Once we are done ,we will issue out a joint press statement with the UNHCR,” said Kagonye.
She confirmed receiving cases of Rwandan refugees who now have families with Zimbabwean partners adding that a profiling process has been conducted to see those who would want to stay due to family ties.
Kagonye said those with families might be exempted and be asked to register as Zimbabweans.
She noted that the deportation of Rwandan refugees will ease the burden on Zimbabwe as it is currently overwhelmed by the ever increasing number of migrants.
“We have been receiving more than 30 refugees per day and that has been problematic for us because the resources we currently have do not meet the numbers in the camps.
“At Tongogara Refugee Camp, we have more than 11 000 of them and we are struggling to provide social service such as the teacher student ratios, the land they occupy and other administrative issues.
UNHCR Country Representative, Tibagwa applauded the government of Zimbabwe for accommodating the refugees at a time the country despite facing economic challenges.
He expressed hope that the new political dispensation will be able to continue catering for the welfare of refugees in the country.