Yaounde (National Times) – Hundreds of Rwandan refugees residing in Cameroon have organized a sit-in at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Yaounde, after been asked to return to Rwanda.
700 Rwandan refugees currently live in Cameroon. More than 97% of these refugees came to the country in the 1950s; after the deadly Rwandan genocide which ended in 1994.
Since the end of the conflict, Rwanda has emerged as one of the most prosperous and stable countries in Africa. In 2016, the United Nations (UN) named the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali as the most beautiful city in Africa.
In light of the progress recorded in Rwanda, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) has warned Rwandans whose refugee status ended on December 31, 2017 across Africa that it will no longer provide the same material support it used to following the invocation of the cessation clause in Switzerland.
The cessation clause concerns Rwandans who fled the country between 1959 and 1998, and its invocation means that they require no more international protection because fundamental, effective and durable changes in their country of origin guarantee that there is no well-founded fear of persecution.
But most of the refugees have argued that the transformation in Rwanda are smokescreen to hide the deep inter-tribal animosity which has continued since after the genocide.
One refugee who spoke to National Times on the condition of anonymity, said “we are Hutus and we are afraid of our lives. I don’t think it is safe for Hutus to return to Rwanda. That is why we are asking for permanent resident status to continue to live in Cameroon”.
The hundreds of refugees, some of whom have businesses and families in Cameroon, are asking the UN refugee commission’s office in Cameroon to grant them 10 years permanent residence status. They are currently on a 2 years residence status with possibility of renewal.