Malawi: Over 30 Rwandan refugees express interest to return

Malawi: Over 30 Rwandan refugees express interest to return

Malawian Minister of Homeland Security and Citizenship, Zikhale Ng’oma, confirmed that the government repatriated Rwandan refugees on June 13. Courtesy

By Hudson Kuteesa

Thirty-three Rwandans who have been residing in Malawi as refugees have expressed their desire to return home and will be repatriated “later this month of June.”

Officials at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) told The New Times that they are working with the Malawian government to facilitate the repatriation process.

“We are liaising closely with Malawi counterparts who have identified 33 Rwandan refugees registered with UNHCR who have expressed interest in return. Arrangements are currently being made for their repatriation and we expect some of them to return later this month,” Lily Carlisle, UNHCR Rwanda’s External Relations Officer, told The New Times on Thursday, June 15.

Carlisle noted that this year alone, 712 Rwandan refugees have already voluntarily returned home, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“UNHCR continues to work closely with a range of countries to facilitate the voluntary return of refugees, including Rwandans,” she said.

Malawi is home to approximately 51,000 refugees from various countries. In early June, Malawian Minister of Homeland Security Ken Zikhale Ng’oma said the government is committed to protecting them, adding that it is crucial to differentiate them from individuals residing in the country without official refugee status.

“We intend to conduct a thorough headcount to accurately determine the number of genuine refugees and illegal migrants,” he added.

The 33 Rwandan refugees that are set to be repatriated are officially registered under the UNHCR.

Ng’oma said his government will uphold the rule of law and ensure that refugees receive the necessary care and protection as outlined in the Geneva Convention.

Meanwhile, the Malawian government has recently tried to tackle the issue of people who obtained their citizenship through dubious ways, and these include some Rwandans.

In early June, Malawi revoked the citizenship of 396 individuals from Rwanda and Burundi, a decision that was taken due to suspicion surrounding the dubious manner in which they obtained their naturalization papers.

Minister Ng’oma emphasized the Malawian government’s determination to identify and address the presence of migrants illegally involved in various economic activities.

“We have explained to the UNHCR delegation the distinction between refugees and migrants who entered the country illegally and are engaged in economic activities,” he said.

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