Rwanda Begins Process of Issuing Passports to Former Rwandan Refugees


26. 11. 2013

Kigali — Rwanda has launched the process of application for passports for Rwandan refugees who lost their refugee status as of June 30, 2013. The cessation clause was invoked because the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) deemed Rwanda safe for refugees who left Rwanda between 1959 and 1998 to return.

The process was launched last week in Zambia where over 4,000 Rwandan refugees can now apply for a Rwandan passport. The coming into effect of Cessation Clause left concerned Rwandan refugees with three options including: voluntary repatriation, local integration in the countries of asylum and application for exemption procedures.

While voluntary repatriation remains a priority, the government will issue national passports to Rwandan refugees who opt for local integration due to socio-economic ties they have established within their countries of asylum.

“We realise that some refugees have ties for example through marriage that would make it difficult for them to return to Rwanda. In this case, the government has made it possible for them to acquire passports so they gain legal status in those countries,” said Seraphine Mukantabana, Minister in charge of Refugee Affairs.

Zambian Government commends the initiative

In his remarks on the occasion of the launch of the Rwandan national passport application process, Zambian Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, commended the Government of Rwanda for making it easy for former refugees to acquire national passports while in Zambia and urged former Rwandan refugees who lost their status to acquire passports in order to legally be allowed to stay in Zambia.

“This for us is important because for the local integration to work in this country especially by way of Immigration Permits, possession of the National passport is a legal requirement,” said Mr. Kampyongo

From July to September 2013, 1399 Rwandan refugees have been repatriated from different countries.

The process of application for national passports for former Rwandan refugees launched in Zambia is expected to be extended into other countries, starting by countries hosting the largest number of Rwandan refugees affected by the Cessation Clause.




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