UN refugee agency set to start voluntary Rwandan repatriation programme

The five-truck convoy is expected to repatriate a first group of 200 refugees out of 1,165 Rwandan refugees who have registered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for help in returning to their central African country. The operation is being organized by UNHCR and the Governments of Uganda and Rwanda to assist the voluntary repatriation of some 23,000 Rwandans in Uganda as part of the wider effort to bring Rwandans home from other countries with which the agency has signed similar agreements, including Burundi, the Central African Republic, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In mid-2003, there were an estimated 60,000 Rwandan refugees scattered throughout these countries. Monday’s returnees will be transported to a transit facility where they will receive a reintegration package consisting of basic kitchen utensils, plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets, jerry cans and soap. UNHCR trucks will transport some to their home areas or to the nearest location, while others will receive transport assistance via commercial vehicles.