February 13, 2012

About 6,000 Rwandan refugees in Zambia want the Catholic Church to help stop the state plans to repatriate them and instead to regularize their Zambian citizenship.

The refugees also want the bishops' conference to remind the government to respect their human rights and their right to choose where to settle, as indicated in documents by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Speaking in Lusaka Jan. 29, the coordinator of the Rwandan refugees in Zambia, Kazuba Rwasibo Equide, asked the bishops to quickly intervene and stop the government's plans before they are implemented.

"We are in constant touch with friends and family members back home, and we know that the situation is not yet very conducive for us to return," Equide said.

The Zambian ministry of home affairs plans to join the UNHCR to repatriate Rwandan refugees because the situation in their country has normalized after decades of inter-ethnic violence and the 1994 genocide.