Mbarara: Over one million Rwandan refugees face forced repatriation as the government of Uganda said Saturday that it will not grant asylum to Rwandans living in the country, following discussions between Rwanda, UNHCR and Ugandan officials.
The development was communicated at a meeting between Ugandan officials led by Relief and Disaster Preparedness Minister, Professor Tarsis Kabwegyere and his Rwandan counterpart General Marcel Gatsinzi, in Mbarara, Western Uganda.
In a joint communiqué, the Rwandans in Uganda, who had fled Rwanda due to population pressure and political reasons in recent years, are over 1 million in number. Most of them have mainly settled in Kiboga and Masindi regions of central and western Ugandan respectively.
Kabwegyere’s team complained to the Rwandan delegation that the Rwandans were involved in grabbing land from Ugandans and also trying to dominate the indigenous people politically and socially.
The Rwandan refugee crisis in Uganda has over the last decade taken on political and military dimensions. The Rwandan government has accused some of them of being insurgents while the Ugandan government considers some of them as spies.
Uganda’s High Commissioner to Rwanda Richard Kabonero said that conditions in Rwanda are good for everyone to return.
He cited a group of refugees, commonly referred to as the Kibati group, saying they returned to Rwanda in October 2007 and settled happily. Those still in Uganda, Kabonero said, should voluntarily go back or risk losing their refugee status.
Over 1,312 Rwandan refugees fled to Uganda between April and March this year, claiming political persecution. The refugees, most of whom hail from the Eastern Province, were however denied refugee status.