IOM Aids Rwandan Returnees from Tanzania

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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IOM Aids Rwandan Returnees from Tanzania

GENEVA, Switzerland, February 7, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- IOM has provided emergency transport assistance to over 15,000 Rwandan returnees from Tanzania over the past six months.

The returnees were expelled from Tanzania following a July 2013 presidential directive requiring all undocumented migrants in the country's Kagera region to leave by 11th August 2013 or be forcibly removed by the security forces.

“We assume that the vast majority of Rwandans without the required “valid residential documents” have now been expelled, as the number of expellees arriving at the border is very small now,” said IOM Rwanda Chief of Mission, Catherine Northing.

By 21st January, 14,461 Rwandans, nearly a third of them women, many of them pregnant, had arrived at Tanzania's border with Rwanda.

Many were in bad physical and mental condition after sustaining injuries in the expulsion process. Most arrived at the border without any belongings. Returnees included people who had been married to Tanzanians and been separated. Others had been born in Tanzania, had never lived in Rwanda and had no family links.

IOM responded to the crisis by providing transport from the Rusumo and Ndego border crossing points to reception and transit centres. To relieve pressure on the centres, it also provided onward transportation to districts of origin and relocation, and transfer between centres, in a programme funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.

During the process, returnees stayed at three locations in Kirehe and Kayonza districts. IOM assistance included provision of transport and support for Rwanda's Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) to rehabilitate emergency shelters and manage camps, including the provision of necessities such as housing materials and firewood.

All returnees have now been moved back to their districts of origin or to relocation sites. But many have no homes to go back to and are staying in small district camps in 30 different locations.

District officials are providing them with land and other assistance, but lack adequate resources to provide reintegration assistance, including shelter.

“The humanitarian emergency phase is now over, but the returnees are still in desperate need of reintegration assistance in their districts of origin or relocation. IOM can help, but it needs funding from international donors,” said Northing.