(By Estera Popowska)
A Ugandan commissioner for refugees in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Apollo Kazungu, has said Kenyans who sought refuge in Uganda during the 2007 and 2008 post-election violence will be repatriated to Kenya next.
Mr Kazungu reportedly told Daily Monitor since there is calm in Kenya, there is no need for the refugees to stay in Uganda. The refugees, numbering about 1,350, all of Kenyan origin, have been living in a camp in Kiryandogo refugee settlement in Masindi District for the last seven years.
“Their reason for fleeing was the 2007 election violence, which is no more. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kenyan government to guide their return,” Mr Kazungu reportedly said.
“We are working with the Kenyan government and UNCHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) to repatriate them to their country,” Mr Kazungu stressed, adding that a survey has been conducted and concluded and that they (refugees) have expressed willingness to return home.
The Ministry official further said 950 of the Kenyan refugees have so far registered and will be returned home on May 5. However, Mr Patrick Mwanji, one of the refugees, said they were informed at short notice hence are unprepared to go back to Kenya.
“They only told us about it (return) on April 10. We are not prepared to go because we had gardens here and moreover they are giving us little money to facilitate our settlement back home,” Mr Mwanji said, adding: “We are forced to go back because we do not have an option but to go into the IDP camps in Kenya.” Mr Mwanji, who has a family of four, said with the reception expected, life will be harder in his home country.
Mr Kazungu said the only justifiable reason for refugees to stay is if the reason for seeking asylum still exists. “If someone still has well -founded fears for not returning to their country, we keep them around, otherwise why would they stay?” he asked.
The 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis was a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis that erupted in Kenya after the disputed re-election of the then incumbent president Mwai Kibaki in the presidential election held on December 27, 2007 (Daily Monitor)