Rwandese Refugees Stay Put Despite UN Cessation Clause

The refugees, mainly from the majority Hutu ethnic group, accused of carrying out mass killings in 1994 which left close to a million Rwandans from the minority Tutsi ethnic group dead, maintain it is not safe to go back to Kigali.

The refugees claim that the Kigali regime is conducting witch hunts on returnees, throwing them in jail or killing them.

Refugees from Rwanda are now required to go back home after the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) evoked the Cessation Clause, which declared the country safe and suitable for refugees to return.

The cessation Clause deadline was December 2011 but only two Rwandan refugees who were staying in Zimbabwe offered themselves for voluntary repatriation.

The rest have stayed put accusing the government of Paul Kagame of attempting to snare them back into Rwanda and them pounce on them.

The refusal by the refugees to be voluntarily repatriated has put the Zimbabwean government and the UNHCR in a quandary as they are not permitted under international law to forcibly repatriate the refugees.

The UNHCR country representative Marcelline Hepie and the Zimbabwe government commissioner for Refugees, Isaac Mukaro were dispatched to Tongogara Refugee Camp, in Chipinge, in last minute attempts to try and persuade the Rwandans to return home.

But they found the Rwandans were not in the mood to negotiate, telling the two men they were not prepared at all to leave Zimbabwe for Rwanda.

“We have made it very clear to them that this is a trap,” said one Rwandan based at the camp. “Kagame wants us to go back so that he can throw us in jail or kill us. Many refugees have retuned and they have been thrown into jail while others have disappeared.”

Others cited the ongoing case involving Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire who was arrested on accusations of propagating ethnic hatred and “genocide revisionism” – charges she says are politically motivated.

She was arrested in April 2010 and barred from standing in elections. Ingabire is boycotting her terror trial, accusing the judge of bias.

The Rwandan government says those who are reluctant to go back home are afraid to do so because they participated in the 1994 genocide.