The experiences and needs of returning refugees to Kigali, Rwanda and the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in their repatriation.
The study was designed to understand the experiences and needs of returning refugees to Kigali, Rwanda and the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in their repatriation. The study adopted a qualitative research method where in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 returnees and 4 key informants; 2 from the UNHCR and 2 from the GoR. Many African countries especially in the Great Lakes region have been variously hit by military and ethnic conflicts that are responsible for the refugee plight. While the UNHCR and its partners have tried its level best to deal with refugees' problems in the region, many challenges remain in repatriation and reintegration of Rwandese returnees. This is due to institutional weaknesses, lack of multidisciplinary approaches to solving the returnees' problems, poor governance and failure to monitor the sustainability of development projects and plans that are in line with the returnees/refugees needs. The capacity to design and implement successful refugee policy programmes in Africa is weak from the global to the community level. Even the external assistance for the returnees to Rwanda is failing because of lack of 'in-country' experience needed to understand returnees' needs and to find appropriate durable solutions. African governments must make efforts to operationalise refugee laws and polices and draw on locally conceived ideas for addressing refugees/returnees problems on the continent. In this study the findings in Chapter five indicate that virtually all returnees experienced violence, victimization, psychological distress and extremely traumatic genocide experiences. The returnees' recovery from trauma and loss of their relatives during the genocide, especially among the new caseload returnees, appeared to be complicated by overwhelming blame and guilt associated with the outcome of the Gacacca court investigations and the various unmet needs for social intervention after retuning to Rwanda. Many participants experienced difficulty in coping with life in Rwanda, yet little is known by the GoR about the coping patterns of such returnees. The study highlights possible recommendations for averting the refugee phenomenon and recommends a variety of counselling, financial and other service interventions to meet returnees ' needs.