Thursday 24 December 2020


Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge has appealed for resources from Government to deport 810 individuals with failed refugee status that continue to stay in the camp.The failed asylum seekers remain resident at Tongogara enjoying all forms of protection like refugees although some of them were rejected for being a security risk.

Tongogara Camp administrator, Johanne Mhlanga told six Parliamentary Portfolio Committees three weeks ago that the rejected asylum seekers are 391 women and 419 men.

Among them are 108 Rwandans who fled Rwanda between 1959 and 1998 who cease to be refugees because they are affected by the cessation clause in terms of the law. The Rwandans still view their country and government with suspicion.

Under Section 8 of the Refugee Act they are supposed to leave the country within three months of such a rejection but some of the refugees have been at Tongogara for more than 20 years. Mhlanga said some of the applications were rejected for national security reasons while others had claims that lacked credibility.

There was a lot of effort to send back the failed asylum seekers but this has been resisted, said Mhlanga. He said some refugees

were even sent home to go and prove for themselves that the situation had changed in their countries but they will still not want to go.

“Sustained efforts have been put in place to encourage the affected population to voluntarily go back home. They conducted go and see, come and tell visits in order to appreciate the situation back home. However, this has not yielded positive results as the affected Rwandans view their country and Government with suspicion.

“In short, the implementation of the cessation clause has become so protracted. However, in terms of the law, these people are no longer regarded as refugees. It is however, unfortunate that majority of these cases are still resident at Tongogara Refugee camp, getting all forms of protection like other persons of concern.

“In terms of the law, these failed asylum seekers are now immigration cases. It is my appeal to the Committee on Defense, Home Affairs and Security Services to advocate for resource allocation to the Immigration department to effect deportation of the failed asylum seekers,” said Mhlanga.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committees were on a fact finding mission. He said once an applicant has been rejected by the Commissioner of Refugees, he or she has the right to appeal to the Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare within

seven days of receiving notification. He added that the Minister may recognize or refuse to recognize the applicant and once

the application has been turned down the applicant will be expected to leave the country within three months of receiving notification.

He also said the refugee status of Rwandans who fled Rwanda between 1959 and 1998 ceased and as a result 108 Rwandans are affected by the cessation clause in terms of the law. Masvingo Mirror


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