August 21, 2019

Kagame: Some Rwandans Choose To Remain Refugees Because They Think Rwanda Is Too Small


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Refugees in the Osire refugee settlement is situated about 110 kilometres south-east of Otjiwarongo in the Otjozondjupa Region, Namibia

President Paul Kagame has said Rwanda has addressed “90 plus percent” of the problem of refugees, pointing out that those still outside are their at their own will.

Speaking in Namibia, alongside host President Hage Geingob at State House, Kagame said the remaining problem was about “5 percent”.

He said: “If it is voluntary, strictly by that word, some people choose not to come back home…I give an example, we had people who were supposed to come back and [since] Rwanda is a very small country geographically and one of the most densely populated countries in the world, having close to 13m people in just a small space.”

“So some people when they are outside, they say ‘ooh we have more breathing space here’..and choose not to come back…much as we want them to come back,” said Kagame amid laughter by himself, his host and the media audience.

The precise number of Rwandan refugees in Namibia is unclear, but some figures claim about 600.

However, in total, there are 5,665 recognised refugees in Namibia residing at Osire refugee camp, the majority from the DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Cameroon and Somalia.

According to Namibian media reports, many of the Rwandans have left Namibia to Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique.

There are thousands of Rwandans in nearly all the Southern African countries. Since 2017, they have been stripped of refugee status by the UN refugee agency UNHCR, along with more than 240,000 all over the world.

As The Chronicles reported yesterday, these refugees are considered a strategic concern by the Rwandan government, and Kigali has been doing everything possible to have them repatriated.

READ: What Is Behind Kagame’s Southern Africa Diplomatic Offensive?

Speaking about the refugee issue yesterday, Kagame said: “Even one for us should’nt be a refugee if we can convince them to come home.”

Kagame referred to the “genocidal government” in Rwanda which he said “used to tell people they cannot come back because the country is too small”.

“And we were saying, no, if a country wants back its people, rightly so, the country is never too small. People will always fit in their country no matter what,” said Kagame.

He added: [There are] “Those, who for their own reasons say ‘No I cant go home’ for one reason or another, justified or not, that’s why we still have some of them outside.”

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