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By Godfrey Olukya    17-7-2013
4,114 Rwandan refugees are still in Uganda even after their refugee status expired on June 30th 2013.
Since, according to Uganda’s constitution anyone, without any exception, who has been in Uganda for more than 20 years acquires citizenship on registration, the refugees who have stayed for that long are seeking for citizenship.

The 4,114 Rwandans are among those who have been living in Uganda for over a decade. Some have been there for  over 3 decades. They are part of those supposed to voluntarily be repatriated to Rwanda but up to now they have not made up their mind to return to Rwanda.

Most of them are now seeking for permission to permanently stay in Uganda.a. refugee status. The voluntary repatriation started in 2012. Since then, 364 families,comprising 665 individuals have been assisted to return home.
”I do not feel like going back to Rwanda because I have stayed in Uganda for over 30 years.’ said Abel Habyarumana. ‘My parents came here in 1959. I was born here and I don’t want to leave Uganda because I now believe that I am part of it. ‘
There are also some Rwandans who fled into Uganda in 1990’s after getting involved in genocide  who do not trust their home government and believe they will be persecuted if they go back.
”I can not go back to Rwanda because of what I hear taking place there.” said a refugee who declined to give his name.’

According to Uganda’s minister of Disaster preparedness, relief and refugees Hilary Onek there are currently about 15,000 Rwandan refugees in Uganda. The country also hosts thousands of refugees from Democratic republic of Congo, a few from Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Sudan.

According to today’s New Vision, The United Nations High Commission, (UNHCR)

has urged Uganda to integrate some of the 4,114 Rwandan refugees into its society, two weeks after the June 30th deadline recommended for discontinuation of their refugee status.

UNHCR representative in Uganda, Mohammed Adar said, ‘As you know, quite a significant number of refugees have been here over three decades. Many have been born herewith hardly any links to Rwanda.Some have socially and economically integrated wholesomely. To them this is the only home they know.”

Authorities in Uganda said they will consider the request after thoroughly studying it.

Both UNHCR and Rwandan government insist that since the end of the civil war and 1994 genocide, Rwanda is peaceful and over 2 million exiled Rwandans have returned home.

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