UN refugee agency signs agreement for repatriation of 25000 Rwandans

Some 25,000 Rwandan refugees in Uganda – half the total still scattered across Africa – will be repatriated voluntarily under a tripartite agreement signed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with the Governments of Rwanda and Uganda. The agreement is the third in a series UNHCR has reached with governments to establish a legal and operational framework for the voluntary return of Rwandan refugees, following agreements earlier this year with Zambia and the Republic of Congo. Under an agreement with Tanzania last year, more than 20,000 Rwandan refugees returned from camps in the western part of that country. According to the terms of the agreement, signed on Wednesday in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, all Rwandan refugees in Uganda who wish to return home will be able to do so without pre-conditions, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told a briefing in Geneva today. At the same time, no Rwandan refugee will be compelled to return against his or her will and those who opt not to repatriate will continue to enjoy refugee status. The Government of Rwanda has agreed to ensure that the return of the refugees takes place in safety and dignity, Mr. Redmond said. Since the beginning of the year, more than 8,000 Rwandan refugees have returned home, mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). read more