Uganda denies deporting Rwandan refugees

2010-07-20 14:29

Uganda today denied a UN claim it deported Rwandan refugees earlier this month, stressing it had only turned away unsuccessful asylum seekers.

Tarsis Kabwegyere, Uganda’s minister for disaster preparedness and refugees, said: “It is not correct that we deported Rwandan refugees.”

On Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued a statement deploring Uganda’s deportation on July 14 of 1 700 Rwandan asylum seekers from two refugee camps in the southwest of the country.

UNHCR said that among the asylum seekers deported were individuals who had already been granted refugee status: “We have since received confirmation that recognised refugees were among those returned.”

Kabwegyere said only rejected asylum seekers were forced to leave Uganda last week.

He also said that the UNHCR has privately apologised for its inaccurate statement.

Kabwegyere said: “This morning I had the UNCHR country representative (to Uganda) in my office and I can confidently say that (statement) was regretted.”

The minister said last week that nearly 1 800 Rwandans at two camps were sent back to their country after interviews showed “there was no legitimate reasons for them to be given asylum”.

Uganda has for more than a year been trying to persuade its Rwandan refugees to return home, but 11 308 remain, Kabwegyere said.

In 2010, 3 320 Rwandans have arrived at Ugandan camps seeking refugee status, but more than 98% have been rejected, according to UN and government figures. 

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