The Government of Rwanda and the Government of Zambia has signed bilateral agreements to facilitate Rwandan refugees who lost their refugee’status to have other alternative legal status.
The Cessation Clause for Rwandan refugees which took effect on June 30, 2013 affected more than 4000 Rwandan refugees living in Zambia.
In a bilateral meeting held in Lusaka from July 4-5, 2013, the two countries agreed to join their efforts to facilitate former Rwandan refugees to get alternative legal status in line with the durable solutions stipulated in the Cessation Clause including voluntary repatriation or local integration in the asylum country.
During that bilateral meeting, The Zambian Government was represented by Edgar Lungu MP, Minister of Home Affairs while Rwanda was represented by Seraphine Mukantabana, Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs. The meeting was also attended by UNHCR as observers.
Minister Edgar Lungu confirmed that the cessation clause in Zambia took effect on 30 June 2013, and affected about 4000 Rwandan refugees who fled between 1959 and 1998. While recognizing that voluntary repatriation is the best durable solution to the refugee problem, Edgard reiterated the call for the two countries to establish diplomatic missions in their respective capitals for enhanced bilateral cooperation in the event that some refugees opt for other durable solutions, such as local integration.
On the behalf of Rwanda, Minister Mukantabana Seraphine emphasised that tremendous efforts have been made in providing refugees with updated information about peace and security, justice and human rights as well as socio-economic developments in Rwanda and encouraging them to voluntarily return home. She however, reaffirmed the commitment of the Government of Rwanda, to work closely with Zambia to address issues relating to local integration in Zambia.
“Voluntary Repatriation will remain open and efforts to encourage it will continue, stated Minister Mukantabana Seraphine. However, former Rwandan refugees who wish to stay in Zambia will be facilitated by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with the Government of Zambia to get Rwandan national passports and consular cards in order to facilitate processing and issuance of immigration permits in Zambia” she added.
The criteria and procedures for eligibility to local integration will be set and published by the Government of Zambia in the near future.
Passport Application Forms for Rwandan former refugees shall be made available in Zambia through the Office of the Commissioner for Refugees (COR) and online ensure easy access for applicants to local integration.