UN Agency to Revoke Refugee Status for Rwandans Abroad

Posted October 7th, 2011 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations Refugee Agency says it will recommend lifting the refugee status for thousands of Rwandans next year, stating that normalcy had returned to the African country after the 1994 genocide.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday in Geneva that the agency will recommend to states that have accepted refugees to invoke cessation by 31 December 2011, and make it effective on 30 June 2012.

The agency issued a statement saying that Rwandan and UNHCR officials met in Geneva “to discuss progress on comprehensive solutions for Rwandan refugees.” The statement says the two sides have agreed to set up a meeting of all relevant states and other actors in December with a view to step up repatriation.

Human rights groups have criticized Rwanda's pressure on neighboring countries to send back the refugees.

Amnesty International says that on the 14th and 15th of July, a joint operation between the Ugandan and Rwandan authorities forcibly returned around 1,700 failed asylum-seekers and some refugees from Nakivale and Kyaka II camps in south-western Uganda.

It says that Rwandans, including a number of recognized refugees, were forced onto trucks at gunpoint. The report says several were injured, including pregnant women and that at least one man died after jumping off a truck.

The group says the operation violated international refugee and human rights law.

Rwanda genocide claimed 800,000 lives, most of them Tutsis who were massacred by Hutus. An estimated two million people fled across the border. UNHCR says About 114,000 Rwandans live in some 40 countries with refugee status, most of them in the Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of Congo.