Press Statement on the Government’s intention to repatriate refugees in Rwanda to the DRCongo: We call upon equal and inclusive treatment for all those who claim to be Congolese refugees around the world, but not only those in Rwanda as requested by President Paul Kagame.
Refugees in Rwanda during the Demonstration in November 2022
We have carefully followed messages in various media attributed to His Excellency Patrick Muyaya, the Minister of Communication of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the intention of the Government to repatriate Congolese refugees living in Rwanda.
We think that it is already a positive move for the Government of DRC to begin a reflection on the problem of refugees, let us point out that much as there are no exhaustive statistics, various sources indicate that there are around 3 million Congolese refugees in the world, around 4 million refugees on Congolese territory, but also more than 6 million Internally Displaced Persons including those who already stateless people in DRCongo.
The question of refugees requires then to be treated as a whole, we strongly discourage a specific treatment of a certain category of refugees regardless of who they are and where they are.
We do remind both Rwanda and DRCongo Governments, UNHCR, development partners and Human Rights Organizations that the repatriation of refugees is not a matter of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and is not also a decision of the Government of DRCongo. But rather a voluntary will of the refugee himself wanting to return to his country according to the Geneva Convention of 1951 and the African Union Convention of 1969.
The current refugee repatriation which is being demanded by Rwanda violates the voluntary character of the voluntary repatriation of refugees and should be discouraged by the international community.
The role of Governments and UNHCR is only limited to facilitating the refugee to return under human conditions. If Rwanda has failed to ensure the protection of refugees then should engage the UNHCR and also explore provisions of the Article 2 of the African Union Convention on refugees for a relocation to other places. It is ironic that Congolese refugees in Rwanda want to return to areas of North Kivu which are still highly hit by war as we speak.
We observe that since 2019 the DRCongo has implemented a policy that facilitates each Congolese, including refugees, to obtain a “return to the country” document through the Embassies. We wonder why refugees in Rwanda would not benefit from this measure in order to come back home.
To solve this problem once and for all, the Government of DRCongo should first work on the following prerequisites:
Appoint a Special Advisor to the Head of State who will be responsible for refugees, foreigners and internally displaced persons, reform the National Commission for Refugees (CNR) and put in place laws that respect human dignity,
Engage the Communities and all the local population on the issue of refugees, especially those who do not have land in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Redefine the status of those who were refugees in DRCongo, then they left the country because of wars in order to seek asylum in other countries but now they want to come back to DRCongo again,
Set up a National Consultation Framework on the issue of refugees where each stakeholder interested in this thematic will be present. Put an end to arbitrary arrests, threats and intimidation by the Security Services, in particular the ANR and the Police, against Human Rights Defenders engaged in this area of the promotion, protection and defense of refugee rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
We are always available to share with the government, stakeholders and the local population our ideas for managing this situation well and we are very confident that the DRCongo can be a model of global humanism in the management of refugees.
The Provincial Coordination of North Kivu
Remember also this
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