Scared Rwandan refugees refuse to leave Zim

CHIPINGE - Over 500 Rwandan refugees who are facing repatriation to their country could flee Tongogara Refugee Camp (TRC) if government fails to address their plea for local integration.

TRC administrator Meshack Zengeya said the predominantly Hutu refugees fled their country in fear of revenge killings after their ethnic group presided over a brutal genocide that claimed 800 000 Tutsi lives in 100 days, in 1994.

“I’m certain that the security ministries will have a problem with these people when they disappear into the community. So it’s an issue which the Rwandan community are requesting for local integration,” Zengeya said recently.

United Nations has given a December 31 deadline of the cessation of refugees, a clause which is affecting all Rwandan refugees who fled the country before 1998.

“There is a cessation clause which has been invoked by the international community which stops them from being refugees beyond 31 December and they are supposed to go back,” Zengeya said.

Following the 1994 Hutu-led genocide, the then Hutu government was toppled from power leading to many Hutus fleeing the country fearing retaliation from the Tutsi-led government.

Rwanda’s current President Paul Kagame is a Tutsi.

The current cessation deadline is an extension of a 2013 deadline that flopped after the refugees resisted repatriation in spite of assurances by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which has been organising “go-and-see first” visits for a select few with the hope that they would return with encouraging experiences.

“Unfortunately they are always coming back with negative stories,” Zengeya said.

Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services, Prisca Mupfumira, who was expected to give hope to the Rwandese refugees during a tour of the facility, said the country was bound by the cessation clause and is therefore entrusted to repatriate all Rwandan refugees residing within the country’s borders.

“It’s not the government of Zimbabwe that is coming up with a position that Rwandans have to go back.

“It’s a position which was taken last year in Geneva affecting all Rwandans wherever they may be,” Mupfumira said.

“In as much as we would want to help, it should be known that this is the position of the UN and not Zimbabwe... unless there are individuals with special reasons that we might have to look at. But generally, our hands as a country are tied. We have to comply,” she added.

TRC Rwandan community leader, Philip Sindayigaya, insists that the Kagame-led government was vindictive and still on a retributive war-path against the Hutus.

“No one here wants to return home. We want to stay in Zimbabwe because what we ran from is still there,” said Sindayigaya.

“We have been appealing for Zimbabwean citizenships, we have noted that other nationals have benefited or resettled and we want similar treatment.

“There are still problems in our home country and as I speak more people are still seeking refugee elsewhere,” he added.

Zengeya confirmed that they continue to receive refugees from Rwanda adding that returning was more of a gamble for some of the refugees.

“Yes, we are still receiving refugees from Rwanda... I believe their hesitancy emanates from the fact that the majority of the 564 Rwandan refugees here are Hutus and some of them fear that they may actually be accused of having participated in the genocide as soon as they land and if that happens they can no longer be admitted as refugees anywhere in the world and will have to face trial,” Zengeya said.

Comments (4)

Please, give those people permanent residence. Thats is a very long time to start again.

Tk - 9 May 2017

Why cant they be given Zimbabwean citizenship? Zimbabwe in not so overcrowded that thy can not be incorporated into the system.

Chaporomoka Chamukwenjere - 9 May 2017

If they participated in the killings (which supsect they did hence their reluctancy to go back) then they must go and face the music. Zimababwe cannot host murderers its relations with Rwanda will beheavily jeopardised. Rwanda is doing very well economically they should be proud to go back home and be part of the success story.

Sinyo - 9 May 2017

Protect these people don't sent them to be killed

Ngonidzashe Nyamusambira - 9 May 2017

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