Repatriation: the politics of (re)-constructing and contesting Rwandan citizenship
UNHCR recently announced that the refugee status of all Rwandans who fled the country between 1959 and December 1998 will cease in June 2013. The declaration follows almost ten years of active lobbying by Rwanda and other host countries to end the Rwandan refugee situation. Considerable concern, however, has been raised by international human rights organisations and refugees alike that the cessation clause is being invoked prematurely, leading to rejected asylum applications, coercive pressure to return and potentially refoulement. The questions that guide this paper are: How is the Rwandan government performing the ‘work’ of (re)constituting refugees as not only citizens, but also as members of the nation, through processes of organised voluntary repatriation and cessation? How does this reflect the synergies and tensions that exist between national and civic modes of belonging? How does this dynamic of nation-building spill across the territorial borders of Rwanda to include, and exclude, refugees still in exile?