WINDHOEK - President of Rwanda Paul Kigame yesterday called on Rwandese nationals who are hosted as refugees in African countries including Namibia to voluntarily return home and be integrated back into society.
He made the plea during his state visit to President Hage Geingob at State House. He was responding to a question by New Era on what his government is doing to promote voluntary repatriation of Rwandese refugees housed at Osire refugee camp. There are 5 665 recognised refugees in Namibia residing at Osire refugee camp, of which the majority are from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon and Somalia.
The Osire refugee settlement is situated about 110 kilometres south-east of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region.
It has a fully functional clinic, police station, primary and secondary schools, postal centre and immigration satellite offices serving the refugees and asylum seekers.
In June, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Maureen Hinda-Mbuende, during the commemoration of International Refugee Day, gave the assurance that Namibia remains committed to protecting asylum seekers and refugees in accordance with the provisions of the ratified international laws.
The Rwanda State Department estimated there were 550 000 refugees, predominantly Tutsis, in Central Africa, most of whom fled Rwanda in the pogroms that followed the overthrow of the Tutsi monarch in 1959. The largest exile communities were in Burundi (245 000) and Uganda (200 000).
Officials from Rwanda, Namibia and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are due to meet to discuss the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees in Namibia.
According to Kagame, his government is still bringing refugees back to Rwanda. In the 1990s, he said, the country managed to bring millions of refugees back home. He said a large number of refugees were from DRC, Burundi, Tanzania and other neighbouring countries.
“We brought home our people in millions. In Southern Africa, you also find many in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, they are many. One of us shouldn’t be a refugee.”
But he said some people chose not to come home for various reasons.
According to him, Rwanda being a small country geographically some people chose not return due to that factor, as they feel they have more breathing space where they are housed as refugees.
However, he vowed no matter how small the country is, they will always fit as a nation.
He therefore encouraged Rwandese refugees to feel free and return home so they can be supported and integrated into society.
“The principle is clear and it has been implemented, that if they want to come home, they can come home. We have addressed 90 percent of the refugees. What really remains is a small legion of five percent,” he noted.
2019-08-21 07:18:44 | 9 months ago