Kanyeihamba Blasts Gov't Treatment Of Refugees


check geneva; font-size: small;”>The manner in which they are being handled, more about he said, and the standards of living at their disposal are way below internationally acceptable standards and should quickly be redressed.

“You only need to have been a refugee to understand how one ought to be treated in a strange country,” he said of why government seems to pay attention to the rights of refugees, who “continue to be holed up in settlement camps enjoying restricted freedoms as compared to other nationals.”

“I was once a refugee in the UK and we were treated in the most humane manner I have ever seen. The government even set up a scholarship fund from Ugandan refugees which benefited many of us.”

He noted that many refugees in Uganda today do not have access to basic services like education and health which are essential requirements by United Nations High Commission for refugees [UNHCR] and various other international conventions.

“Government should also grant permanent citizenship especially to those that have been here for a long period of time, as well as travel documents, and a generally conducive atmosphere for each of them to freely explore their [business] potentials.”

The veteran Jurist was on Wednesday speaking at a daylong symposium on Implementation of a Comprehensive Strategy for the Rwandan Refugee Situation, held at Grand Imperial hotel in Kampala

Rwanda as of September 2011has over 100,000 refugees scattered across neighboring states, majority of them in DRC, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Most of these fled their country as a result of the 1994 genocide and its aftermath, including armed clashes in the north western region which occurred in 1997 and 1998.

However, according to Kanyeihamba, Uganda is still adamant to grant these refugees permanent citizenship even after decades of settlement, with most of them now positively contributing to national development.

The existing law (Citizenship and Immigration Control Act) widely restricts naturalization and legal residency options for refugees.

Also many other factors as land ownership disputes have been highlighted as a serious threat to peaceful coexistence between refugees and native Ugandans.

The Head of the UNHCR Uganda offices Mrs. Birgit Gerstenburg noted that quite a lot of Rwandan Refugees are long-term residents in the country, while majority of them have been born here.

“They have established family ties through intermarriages with local people and are widely contributing to the national economy,” “she noted.

“After years of exile, the links of these individuals with their country of origin have weakened considerable. In such a case, UNHCR considers integration as the most appropriate durable solution.”


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