Rwandan Refugees in Congo Brazzaville in uncertainty after cessation clause

On 3 January 2018 at 05:07

The President of Rwanda refugee community in Congo Brazzaville, Dr. Eric Ndayishimiye has said a number of Rwandan refugees have lost direction following the removal of refugee status.

The implementation of cessation clause took effect last Sunday and concerns all Rwandan refugees who fled the country between 1959 and 1998. However, many Rwandan refugees are still away in different countries from around the world.

Speaking to Radio France Internationale (RFI), Ndayishimiye said that they estimate around 9,000 Rwandans living in Congo Brazzaville as refugees.

He said the refugees won’t go back to Rwanda for different reasons and remain uncertain about their future when the government of Congo Brazzaville starts considering them as stateless people.

“Refugees are going through difficult times. They are in total psychosis, they are clueless and don’t know what to do. They are waiting for what the government of Congo Brazzaville will decide. Precisely they are stateless people,” he said.

“At any time police can threaten them or arrest them because they have no documents allowing them to be here. As I speak, everyone has panicked, I chatted with others who plan to stay home and wait for what will happen next week,” Said Ndayishimiye.

In 2016, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees Affairs (MIDIMAR) estimated that 28,000 Rwandans were still living as refugees across 20 countries.

The International agreement to phase out refugee status for Rwandans who live abroad as refugees allows them to settle in host countries as residents or citizens.

Ndayishimiye said that among refugees in Congo-Brazzaville who tried to apply for legalised stay documents, only 10% were allowed.

In 2016, former country representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Saber Azam had said the situation in Rwanda was perfect and refugees should go back home.

Speaking at a press conference recently, the Minister for Disaster Management and Refugees affairs, De Bonheur Jeanne d’Arc advised those still living outside the country to either repatriate or seek necessary documents to legalise their stay in those countries as Rwandans.

According to UNHCR statistics, more than 20,000 Rwandans were still living as refugees around the world by December 2017.

Up to 84,596 Rwandans have been repatriated since 2009 and supported to reintegrate in Rwandan society, the ministry states. Among them, 78 per cent came from the neighboring DR Congo.