By Kapala Chisunka
Zambia Daily Mail, Monday, July 8, 2013
ZAMBIA and Rwanda have signed a joint communiqué on the comprehensive strategy for former Rwandan refugees living in the country.
The communiqué was signed on Friday night following a bilateral meeting by the two governments held in Lusaka last week, at which they reiterated the call for the two countries to establish diplomatic missions in their respective capitals for enhanced bilateral cooperation.
During deliberations, the Zambian delegation was led by Minister of Home Affairs Edgar Lungu while the Rwandan team was headed by that country’s Minister of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs Seraphine Mukantabana.
The deliberations were a follow-up to the regional assessment meeting of the global strategy on the search for durable solutions for former refugees held in April.
The cessation clause in Zambia took effect on June 30 and affected about 4,000 Rwandan refugees who fled a civil war in their country between 1959 and 1998.
The two delegations agreed that voluntary repatriation will remain open and efforts to encourage it will continue. It was also agreed that former Rwandan refugees who wish to stay in Zambia will be facilitated by the Rwandan government in collaboration with the Zambian government.
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo signed the joint communiqué on behalf of Mr Lungu and the Zambian government while Ms Mukantabana signed on behalf of her country.
“This is in order to facilitate processing and issuance of immigration permits in Zambia. The criteria and procedures for the eligibility to local integration will be set and published by the Zambian government,” the joint communiqué reads in part.
The communiqué further states that passport application forms for former Rwandan refugees shall be made available in Zambia through the office of the Commissioner for Refugees (COR) as the focal point for the process in Zambia.
The focal point in Rwanda will be the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration. Additionally, the two governments also agreed that the said forms shall be available online for download and submission to COR.