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Rwanda Clarifies DRC Position On Cessation Clause

Rwanda has dismissed media reports suggesting that DR Congo does not approve of the implementation of the cessation clause which removes refugee status on Rwandan refugees spread across the world.

The DRC North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku told MONUSCO’s Radio Okapi yesterday that his government had rejected the Pretoria resolutions at the Ministerial meeting in South Africa on April 18 where Rwanda renewed its desire to have all refugees returning home or remaining in host countries as nationals not refugees.

According to Radio Okapi, the North Kivu Governor said that his country had refused such agreement, because it would automatically turn the Rwandan refugees into Congolese.

Speaking on American broadcaster VOA Tuesday morning, Rwanda’s Minister of disaster management and refugee affairs, Ms Seraphine MUKANTABANA said the media reports were wrong and misleading. The minister added that the Radio Okapi report was “shocking” as she had not heard anything like that officially from DRC.

Minister Mukantabana said the DRC official delegation to Pretoria had instead indicated that it would seek the guidance from the Congolese parliament on how to deal with the cessation clause issue. Congo’s delegation was led by interior minister, Richard Muyej.

Responding to critics of Rwanda government who have been wondering why the cessation clause program favours only Rwandans who fled the country from 1959 to 1998, the Minister said those are refugees who fled on general cause like genocide while the rest are in exile due to individual problems which could be also attended on individual basis.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR and countries hosting Rwanda refugees agreed in December 2011 that the refugees would no longer be called so after June 31, 2013. Among the options provided was repatriation back to Rwanda and local integration in host countries.

Rwanda also told a UN conference reviewing the status of Rwandan refugees living in different countries that it will provide them with national documents so they seize to be called “refugees”.

At the Ministerial meeting in Pretoria (South Africa) on April 18, Rwanda renewed its desire to have all refugees choosing their country. However, considering that most of the refugees have established their lives in host countries, it will not be necessary to return to Rwanda.

“Rwanda’s delegation outlined a number of steps it has taken and will continue to implement to support the respective solutions including the issuing of national passports for Rwandans who opt to stay in their current host countries,” said UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards at a press briefing on April 19, 2013. In her VOA interview, Minister Mukantabana said there is outstanding cooperation between Rwanda and the DRC as it is with other 12 countries on refugee affairs – arguing that what the North Kivu governor claimed was not known to Rwanda.

“I do not know where, how and who says that DRC refused to cooperate… I know that Congo agreed to work with us and that it would take the issue to the Legislature for review and approval,” she said. There have been developments of settling refugee Affairs in Rwanda since 2003, when the national dialogue conference was introduced including Diaspora delegations attending various programs which have been put in place to facilitate Rwandans living outside to remain in constant contact with their country.

This has resulted into the returning of most Rwandans to their country including the recent 12,000 mainly from Democratic Republic of Congo.

Source: All Africa

April 23, 2013   No Comments

Eleven African Heads of State and Ban Ki-moon sign a framework agreement to establish peace in the DRC

DR Congo - Map

Map of the DRC

Since the beginning of this year 2013, the security challenges in the DRC, especially in the east, are at the center of the negotiations. The signing of the framework agreement in Addis Ababa, February 24, marked in some way, the launch of the new communication strategy of the Congolese government. Concerning the framework agreement, the government spokesman Lambert Mende and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raymond Tshibanda have been constantly exposing the merits and ambition of the agreement, as many its predecessors, aims to restore peace in the DRC.

As a reminder, eleven African Heads of State have signed with Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the UN, a framework agreement to establish peace in the DRC. The signatories, including Rwanda and Uganda, have committed so not to support armed groups in the DRC. The agreement also comes a series of recommendations that the DRC is committed to follow. However, according to Lambert Mende, the agreement would have added value to focus on ”  external aspects of this recurring conflictual  “In other words, to emphasize responsibilities other than the government, and implying the action of Rwanda and Uganda. Desiring to justify its response to a public increasingly tired of continually renewed promises, the government has initiated the campaign “educational” to reassure and give confidence to the Congolese people.

But concerns are being fast enough to read the agreement. Indeed, even if it requires a comprehensive approach including various countries in the region to stabilize the DRC, it nonetheless “a new agreement” as were earlier also calling for inclusive dynamic but have not, for none of them really gave measurable results and has been for over a decade. In addition, some voices were raised denouncing the tutelage of the DRC should only commit to democratization and reconciliation with neighboring countriesTo add to that, the fact that the present day DRC, hovering over any new initiative, whether regional or orchestrated by the international community, suspicion of a hidden agenda.

The United Nations Relief Congolese government

Yet this time, the international community through the Security Council, seems to truly combine words to deeds. On 28 March, the Council adopted resolution 2098, which aims to create an intervention brigade with an offensive term. Enough to supply more government rhetoric of teaching the merits of the agreement in Addis Ababa went to a self-congratulatory session. Indeed, Kinshasa believes that this resolution is nothing more than the realization of the effectiveness of its diplomacy fail of the relay in the press such as the various outputs officialSomehow, the United Nations came to rescue the Congolese government from struggling to convince its citizens elections. Setting movements of the Security Council on the situation in Congo then gives substance to the discourse of power up but waiting for results is high.

Moreover, the government, for some, continues to defend the indefensible, held negotiations with the M23 in Kampala while, paradoxically, the same group is listed in the 2098 resolution as one of the armed groups to fight . What wonder what the real impact on the ground brigade UN intervention. The politico-military imbroglio is that the reinstatements and successive desertions from the Congolese army does nothing to facilitate the action of the intervention brigade. Then the idea of a contingent of 3,069 men from foreign countries (South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania) do what the Congolese army was never able to do for more than ten years, sounds more like a admission of failure, and military management and leadership of President Kabila, who is the head of the army. Other more operational issues can also be raised about the actuation and collaboration of UN forces and the FARDC. The M23 has received quite negatively the creation of the intervention brigade has already launched a campaign of intimidation in the media and to the people.

What role for Rwanda?

Finally, the text of the resolution states that ”  the commitment and good faith of the signatories  to the framework agreement in Addis Ababa  . ” This argument in good faith can only worry when you know that two of the signatories are specifically accused in a report by a group of UN experts to support armed groups in the region, these armed groups that the brigade has mandate to eradicate. In addition, the newspaper L’Avenir, Rwanda and Uganda are already in motion. Indeed, the newspaper reported in 2800 and 1200 Ugandan military Rwandans who have crossed the border to take a hand in M23 and counteract the FARDC and the intervention brigade. Without being able to certify such information, they are added to the current climate of suspicion.

And so today, the Congolese government and UN forces seem to do battle with the M23, as evidenced by recent statements by officials, the atmosphere is nonetheless sobering at the start of deployment UN. Then, the diplomatic breakthrough Kigali does arouse fears Congolese about its next move. Indeed, despite the opposition, Rwanda acceded, with a vote of 148 votes to 196, a seat of non-permanent member of the Security Council even to sit, since April 1, the seat the rotating presidency of the Council.While the powers of this status are limited but namely Rwanda, which for many Congolese is one of the main protagonists of the current crisis, the head of the coercive organ of the United Nations stirred speculation for some later events.

Potential scenarios

Ultimately, the framework agreement in Addis Ababa in 2098 coupled with the resolution, despite reservations about their application, are opportunities to advance the situation in the DRC. For cons, the Congolese authorities will provide the means for concrete results to emerge and collaboration between FARDC and UN forces to be more effective and relentless transparency to begin an effective recovery of the security management in the DRC.

In a short-term dynamics, the government could easily ride the wave of the actuation of the intervention brigade to convince the public of its reactivity. However in the medium term, the first results on the field will be critical and clarifying relationships with the M23 will also be needed.

Finally, long-term, two scenarios could emerge. The first, more optimistic, would the government, together with the military actions on the ground, activate over expected by many citizens and especially reaffirm Congo’s sovereignty over the entire territory to dispel any plan of balkanization reforms the country. The UN initiative could be a real force for progress in the DRC provided it is accompanied by a clear political agenda. The second scenario is more pessimistic and wants, to some extent, in the tradition of brush fires and hype that surrounded the Congolese politics. We would then see the government establish UN action as a screen to hide a political apathy about the structural reforms in the country and the army. He would engage in a series of announcements and scoops to defend his record in the upcoming elections in 2016.

Source: Jambo News

April 23, 2013   No Comments

UNHCR address applicability of the ‘ceased circumstances’ cessation clauses for the Rwandan refugees

UNHCR Logo

UNHCR Logo

Opening remarks by Home Affairs Minister Ms GNM Pandor during UNHCR meeting on the Implementation of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy including the applicability of the ‘ceased circumstances’ cessation clauses for the Rwandan refugees

18 April 2013

Director for the Africa Bureau Mr George Okoth Obbo

Director Division for International Protection Mr Volker Turk

Attendance of Ministers still to be confirmed by UNHCR

Distinguished guests

Members of the media

May I take this opportunity on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, the government and people of South Africa, to welcome you all to South Africa, and to be the City of Tshwane. This meeting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is aimed primarily at discussing the implementation of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy including the applicability of the ‘ceased circumstances’ cessation clauses for the Rwandan refugees who fled their home country during pre-1998 unrests.

The implementation of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy, including the applicability of the ‘ceased circumstances’ cessation clauses for the Rwandan refugees, must be viewed as an effort of the international community to help the Rwandan refugees to find closure in their quest for state protection and as part of the effort to rebuild that country, following years of war and conflict.

All these efforts by the international community and countries hosting Rwandan refugees should be viewed as an unequivocal statement that the people of Rwanda, like the rest of humanity, across the world, have an inalienable right to peace, freedom and democracy.

The whole world witnessed the atrocities that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, the suffering endured by the people of that country, particularly women and children as well as the destruction of almost the entire infrastructure, as a consequence of ethnic clashes, and other inter-ethnic conflicts preceding the 1994 genocide.

In this regard, the people of Rwanda and the international community should ensure that never again does Rwanda or any other country in the world witness a resurgence of ethnic violence of the kind endured by the people of Rwanda.

This august gathering should do everything in its power to ensure that the 60th UNHCR Executive Committee recommendations on the cessation clause for the Rwandan refugees are implemented in line with the flexibilities and recommendations of the December 2011 meeting in Geneva that took place on the margins of the Intergovernmental Ministerial event. The December 2011 meeting held with host States validated the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy and further affirmed that repatriation and local integration remain the core solutions for the Rwandan refugee population under discussion.

Distinguished guests,

South Africa is firmly committed to ensuring the fulfillment of its international obligations towards refugees and asylum seekers in terms of its ratification of the relevant international protocols. This we do both in letter and spirit.

However, our government believes any implementation of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy should at the very least ensure the protection of the rights of returning persons. That a person desiring alternative status is afforded such opportunities upon freely and voluntarily resuming the protection of their country of origin through re-acquiring citizenship of their country of birth.

This is the manner in which South Africa intends implementing the cessation clause for Angolan refugees most of whom we expect will voluntary return to Angola or seek to remain in South Africa under our Immigration laws which necessarily require the resumption of Angolan nationality by such persons.

Any recommendation to declare cessation of refugees and asylum seekers status should provide some level of guarantee on prevailing peace and stability in the country of origin. Indeed, peace, security and stability is a precursor to any implementation of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy.

The position of the UNHCR in relation to Rwanda has created anguish and uncertainty among the refugee community in South Africa. As such it appears as though much work requires to be done on the part of the UNHCR to clearly articulate the reasons for the cessation declaration among the affected refugee community. Much work requires to be done and the looming date for cessation, 30 June 2013, merely serves to add to the general anxiety among the affected communities. One pertinent question that has arisen with my own interaction with representatives of the Rwandan Refugee community is the declaration of cessation is not to be applied to Rwandans who fled the country after 1998. This they point out is a tacit admission that there exist conditions in Rwanda that would force people to seek asylum.

These questions require attention and discussion by us all and we look forward to hearing from our sister countries and also learning from the UNHCR about its own programme in this regard.

We therefore welcome the decision by the UNHCR to invite Member States to a Ministerial Meeting to discuss matters pertaining to progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy for Rwandan Refugees. We hope that during this gathering valuable information and experiences will be shared that will enrich the process aimed at finding durable solution to the Rwandan refugee problem.

We are committed as government, to working together with all other role-players and stakeholders in the international community, to ensure that the recommended actions of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy are considered further for actual implementation of the cessation clause for Rwandan refugees.

Distinguished delegates,

I take this opportunity, once again on behalf of the government and people of our country, to extend our best wishes to you all in your deliberations on this very important issue of the Implementation of the Comprehensive Durable Solutions Strategy for Rwandan refugees and indeed assure you of our continued support and commitment.

I thank you.

Source: Veritas Info

April 23, 2013   No Comments