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Harare, Kigali and UNHCR sign tripartite agreement

The governments of Rwanda and Zimbabwe and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) signed a tripartite agreement on Tuesday on the voluntary repatriation of an estimated 350 Rwandan refugees in Zimbabwe. Signing the agreement in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the parties pledged to support the repatriation that is scheduled to begin in mid-2004. They assigned each other roles and responsibilities to ensure the success of the process. The Zimbabwean government was mandated to ensure that the refugees were well informed about the security situation in Rwanda, to enable them decide whether or not to repatriate. On its part, the government of Rwanda would ensure that the refugees returned home in safety and that it would encourage a few of them to return to Zimbabwe to sensitise those remaining on the need to repatriate. The UNHCR would provide support for travel as well as initial settlement for the returnees. The parties announced that an information campaign would soon be launched to inform the refugees in Zimbabwe about the situation in Rwanda. "The year 2004 will be the year of enhanced voluntary repatriation for Rwandan refugees from an operational point of view," Wairimu Karago, the UNHCR regional coordinator for the Great Lakes region, said. She said that during the first quarter of 2004, the UNHCR would finalise the establishment of a legal and operational framework with the remaining countries of asylum in west and southern Africa, which host significant numbers of Rwandan refugees. "At the end of next year, UNHCR would like to be in a position to say that it has done everything possible to facilitate and assist Rwandan refugees to return home," she added. Rwanda has signed similar agreements with the governments of the Malawai, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. It is due to sign a similar agreement with Mozambican officials on Thursday.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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