Finding Peace Away from Home: Exploring Local Integration as a Durable Solution for Congolese Refugees in Rwanda

Note on how to cite this journal:

Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, 

The author is reachable at He works at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Rwanda Representation Office. However, views expressed herein do not reflect the official position, past, present, or future, of the United Nations or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


Rwanda has hosted Congolese refugees since 1996. A few refugees have benefitted from resettlement to Western countries, including the United States of America (USA) and Canada. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has not promoted voluntary repatriation because the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains insecure. This paper examines the feasibility of local integration. It draws from the researcher’s dissertation entitled “The Politics of Hosting Refugees in Rwanda.” It uses documents analysis and twenty key informant interviews to collect data. Evidence suggests two significant opportunities: most Congolese refugees share a social and cultural background with their Rwandan hosts, while the new nationality law is progressive, both can facilitate local integration. The researcher recommends UNHCR, the Government of Rwanda (GoR), and other partners to establish all available opportunities, educate refugees and support the process for those interested in this durable solution.


Rwanda is a resource-scarce country, with a small territory of 26,338 square kilometres (sqkm), with a high population density of 525 per sq km (Worldometer, 2021). It is home to approximately 12,950,000 (Worldometer, 2021) inhabitants, with an overwhelmingly rural economy (Statistica, 2021). Despite recent commendable advances in improving socio-economic development indicators(United Nations Development Programme, 2015a), the country remains among the poorest globally; its poverty incidence is exceptionally high among rural households (MINEMA and World Bank, 2019) and high levels of youth and women unemployment[1]. Nevertheless, Rwanda has been hosting refugees from DRC since 1996 (MINEMA and World Bank, 2019). Approximately 70,000 live in five camps[2] and urban areas[3]. For the last 25 years, resettlement has been the most preferred solution, though not appropriate for every refugee, meaning that the country has been striving to support its citizens and refugees, which is not always an easy decision, mainly when refugee host countries have limited resources to meet their development needs (Edmund, 2017).

Drafters of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) hereinafter “the 1951 Refugee Convention” intended that a refugee situation would be temporary, paving one of the most appropriate durable solutions to individual refugees: voluntary repatriation, resettlement, and local integration. In the same vein, the Global Compact on Refugees encourages, among other options, a possibility of these three solutions and responsibility-sharing among members of the global community.

This paper reviews some extant literature on durable solutions, outlines the research methodology, presents and discusses the progress for each durable solution, draws conclusions, and makes recommendations.

  1. Refugees’ Durable Solutions

Per the definition of a refugee in Article 1A (2) of the 1951 Refugee Convention, a refugee runs away for fear of prosecution (United Nations, 1951). Similarly, Article 1F provides for exclusion grounds related to the claimant’s perpetration of certain serious crimes. It, therefore, implies that if the information is available at a later stage that the refugee ran away from prosecution or was involved in serious crimes, there will be cancellation of their status. In Mugesera v. Canada (Refugee Review Tribunal, RRT Reference N96/12101, [1996]), the Court took a decision that withdrew a refugee status. Similarly, Article I.4(a)–(d) of the OAU Refugee Convention outlines four circumstances of cessation: (i) reavailment of national protection; (ii) re-acquisition of nationality; (iii) acquisition of a new nationality; and (iv) reestablishment in the State of origin (Organization of African Unity, 1969). A close examination of the Convention Cessation clauses highlights two sub-categories: changes in personal subjective circumstances (1-4) and circumstances changes that were a foundation of the refugee claim or ceased circumstances (5-6). Both instruments suggest that a durable solution should supplant a refugee status.

The concept of refugees’ “durable solutions” seems to have been used for the first time after World War II (Bidandi, 2018).  It meant voluntary repatriation, resettlement, and local integration, as outlined below:

2.1. Voluntary Repatriation

Voluntary repatriation happens in post – conflict situations after improved conditions in the refugees country of origin. It requires humanitarian and development actors to allocate increased resources to create a suitable environment inside the countries of origin to prevent the recurrence of mass outflows and facilitate sustainable repatriation (Core Group on Durable Solutions, 2003, p.5). There must be peace (Yonekawa & Sugiki, 2020;(Isser and Van der Auweraert, 2009) and livelihoods (Bangura, 2016; Kibreab, 2010) in the country of origin as a precondition for sustainable return.

However, refugees may not opt for voluntary repatriation due to a lengthy period of exile, and acculturation in host societies (Kibreab, 2010, p.54).” Specifically, various factors influence repatriation solutions:  from the host State’s perspective, hosting many refugees negatively impacts fragile local infrastructure and strains the social fabric. In most situations, international solidarity is available upon the influx and its aftermath but dwindles with time, which may contribute to the deterioration of the quality of asylum and eventually pressure on refugees to depart (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.225). From the sending countries’ perspective, many considerations, including protection of human rights, infrastructure, economic, social, and political life, and the rule of law or ensuring adequate national protection, require labour and time. There may be tensions between returning populations and those who stayed behind over property rights (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.226) as it was the case for Burundian returnees (International Refugee Rights Initiative, 2009). From the UNHCR’s perspective, repatriation aims to reavailing national protection. Unfortunately, most repatriations happen amidst a lack of security, inadequate legal and institutional frameworks, inadequate social and economic infrastructure (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.226). For refugees, return decisions are complicated; they may have spent decades in asylum countries, are not well informed about the situation in their country of origin, which often require the “go and see, come and tell arrangements  For the international community, sustainable return depends on the sustainable political, financial and economic support to countries of origin (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.226). to ensure a voluntary, safe, dignified and durable return (Couldrey and Peebles, 2019). Authorities must assure returnees of their physical safety, with the international community’s support, which requires security in the return communities (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.229). It requires legal safety to revive legal systems, including traditional legal structures and legal reforms to protect rights, including nationality (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.230). In the same vein, states must ensure material safety, including the availability of potable water, health services, education, and tangible measures to guarantee a sustainable return (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.231). There is also a need for reconciliation between communities that engaged in conflicts which resulted in refugee outfluxes (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.232). Briefly, some refugees do not opt for voluntary repatriation; reasons include a continued legitimate fear of persecution in their country, fear of discrimination against minority groups, and fear of survival due to destruction in the refugees’ place of origin. Also, dissuasion factors include lived traumatic events, lack of capital for the reintegration process, refugees’ links with the local population and the country of asylum, better access services for staying refugees than those returning, and certain refugee groups decide to stay abroad in pursuit of their political objectives (Crisp, 2002, p.3).

2.2. Local Integration

Not all refugees will opt for repatriation for the reasons laid out above. Such a situation calls for alternative durable solutions such as local integration. It is a process with three interwoven dimensions: first local integration is a legal process where the host State grants refugees a range of rights commensurate to those available to nationals, such as freedom of movement, access to education, access to labour markets, access to public relief and assistance, including healthcare, right to property, legal documentation, which leads to permanent residence. Second, local integration is an economic process whereby refugees become self-reliant and depend less on State or humanitarian actors. Third, local integration is a socio-cultural process whereby the local communities accommodate refugees, which leads to a life without or less discrimination (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002) and naturalisation (Bidandi, 2018). Member States are urged to facilitate the assimilation and naturalisation of refugees (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1951, p.Article 34)”.

Various considerations influence local integration; there may be a concern that refugees are a burden to the economy and environment in a country where the State is struggling to meet the needs of its citizens (Crisp, 2002, p.2). Governments become reluctant to local integration when the global community is not steadfast to burden-sharing. Also, host states may perceive refugees to represent a threat to local, national, and regional security, especially when there is no observance of asylum’s civilian and humanitarian character (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.244). In history, refugees, especially after the Great Lakes crisis, became security threats, especially in mixed situations (armed and criminal elements); and, the post-cold war democratisation process in some African states meant that politicians had an interest in mobilising electoral support based on xenophobic and anti-refugee sentiments (Crisp, 2002, p.2).

The High Commissioner proposed “Development through Local Integration (DLI)” for situations where local integration is more viable than repatriation and resettlement. When the State provides opportunities for gradual integration of refugees, DLI will solicit additional development assistance to attain a local integration of refugees as an option and not an obligation (Core Group on Durable Solutions, 2003, p.5). In partnership with development actors, states contribute to the realisation of local integration through burden-sharing, ensuring that the necessary resources are available to enhance self-reliance and local integration to sustain the viability of local communities affected by their presence (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2003, p.78). Access to work opportunities is an essential ingredient of human dignity and the ability to achieve self-reliance, one of the cornerstones of the successful integration of refugees in their host country (Da Costa, 2006).

2.3. Resettlement

Resettlement encompasses the selection and transfer of refugees from the first country of asylum to a third State willing to admit them as refugees with permanent residence status (Bidandi, 2018). The status provides resettled refugees and dependents with access to rights available to nationals. Resettlement also carries the potential for naturalisation in the resettlement country (Core Group on Durable Solutions, 2003, p.6). Resettlement is a refugee protection tool that shares the same goals of protection as those underpinning responsibility to protect (R2P) as it moves refugees from the risk of mass atrocities by minimising the possibility that overburdened host states will close their borders or return refugees to the manifestly failing State where they face mass atrocities. However, resettlement is a more settled norm and could lend strength to what provisions of the R2P (Gilgan, 2017). It performs core functions, the complementary nature of three durable solutions, and the complementary benefits. Resettlement provides international protection and meets the unique needs of individual refugees whose life, liberty, safety, or other rights are at risk in the asylum country. It is a living expression of international solidarity and responsibility-sharing mechanism, and, eventually helping the assuage the burden from the shoulders of the first asylum country (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.250). Finally, it is a platform to demonstrate the complementarity of three durable solutions: neither the 1951 Refugee Convention nor the UNHCR statute set out the hierarchy of the three durable solutions. Resettlement is, therefore, one of the available solutions to UNHCR and States, but it works along with other durable solutions depending on their appropriateness, feasibility, and desirability. In addition, UNHCR promotes other durable solutions concurrently with resettlement(United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.250).

UNHCR and States have promoted a “strategic use of resettlement”: first, resettlement provides complementary benefits to refugees. First, they bring changes in attitudes and practice regarding asylum policy in the first countries of asylum. As it relieves the first country of refuge burden, resettlement can enhance protection and asylum prospects for the remaining refugee population. Second, resettlement programmes in new resettlement countries may lead to improved asylum systems, including establishing Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures. Third, refugees bring skills, resources, and diversity to the resettlement countries, which incarnate a distinct social, cultural, and economic benefit to the new host State. Finally, a harmonised approach to resettlement processing accessible in a balanced way throughout a particular region can help assuage the secondary movements of refugees in search of protection and resettlement countries (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.251). UNHCR and partners must always consider external realities and competing pressures. One of them is protracted refugee situations and burdens on asylum countries: more people need resettlement opportunities than places and resources available. The limbo in the countries of origin and inadequate resources contribute to the protractedness of refugee situations and appropriate solutions, which pose an economic, social, security problems burden on the first asylum countries (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2002, p.251). Notwithstanding these realities, policymakers and UNHCR have targeted resettlement to improve protection conditions in countries of the first asylum for refugees (Fratzke and Kainz, 2020, p.6). Through the Working Group on Resettlement and the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement, partners strive continuously to enhance the use of resettlement as a responsibility-sharing tool, especially where the prospects of other durable solutions are remote or absent. It includes ongoing efforts to expand and support the resettlement programmes of countries offering resettlement for the first time and expanding the resettlement base (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2003).

2.4. Are Durable Solutions still Relevant?

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) members reiterated the need for responsibility-sharing for refugee situations. The ensuing New York Declaration on refugees begot the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact on Refugees (United Nations Development Programme, 2015b, p.2). In December 2019, a Global Refugee Forum (GRF) congregated in Geneva to express solidarity with refugees and their hosts worldwide.  During the Forum, participants shared good practices on how the Global Compact had been making a difference. States and other stakeholders pledged to improve the lives of refugees and their hosts in the same. Although non-binding[4], the Compact is an opportunity to shape the global refugee regime into a more responsible, predictable, and inclusive of relevant stakeholders, spearheading the sharing responsibility for refugees. It bridges gaps within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) implementation, the 1951 Refugee Convention, and its 1967 Protocol in supporting refugees and communities that host them.

  1. Methodology

Data for this paper came from two main sources; first, the study uses documents analysis: journal articles, relevant websites, international or municipal laws, public policies, strategic plans, official reports, newspaper articles, handbooks, and training materials (O’Leary, 2014). The researcher reviews them to get the background information, get normative evidence, seek corroboration, and breed credibility of findings and conclusions (Bowen, 2009). This technique is helpful for its unobtrusiveness; availability does not necessarily require prior permissions, primarily when published in public domains (Bowen, 2009). The researcher purposively collected data from twenty participants with specialist knowledge of the research matter, with the willingness to participate (Jupp, 2006, p.244) and share their world views (Bogdan and Biklen, 2007) to bridge the data gap. The researcher picked this strategy since it was suitable for information-rich participants (Jupp, 2006, p.245); knowledgeable in international law, refugee law, and refugee inclusion matters. To ensure anonymity, the data used indicate in a footnote the interview without indicating the source (example: KII 20 12 2015). The researcher is aware that quantitative researchers may argue that the sample of 20 participants is too small. However, the researcher argues that qualitative study sample sizes are characteristically smaller than those in quantitative studies (Patton, 2015). The concern for qualitative studies is the development of categories and the adequacy of information about the phenomenon under investigation (Ritchie et al., 2013) and, especially, whether the researcher provides satisfactory answers to every research question (Creswell and Creswell, 2018, p.76).

  1. Findings and Discussion

The paper examines each of the three durable solutions for the Congolese refugees and makes a case for local integration.

4.1. Voluntary Repatriation

There have been international, regional, and bilateral efforts to bring about peace and security in DRC, but achievements registered are not enough to inform voluntary repatriation. The creation of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) goes back to the year 2000 when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed resolutions 1291 and 1304, calling for an international conference on security peace, democracy, and development in the Great Lakes region (ICGLR, 2018). The recognition of ICGLR as a mechanism for combating impunity and promoting justice and human rights requires a critical reflection and understanding of the mechanism’s past, present, and future. In the quest to transform the region into a cosmos of peace, security, and sustainable human development, in 2000, the UN Security Council called for an International Conference on peace, security, democracy, and development in the Great Lakes Region (resolutions 1291 and 1304). In November 2004, the eleven Heads of State and Government of the member states unanimously adopted the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security, and Development in the Great Lakes region in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. They convened once again in Nairobi in 2006 to sign the Pact on Security, Stability, and Development in the Great Lakes Region. Later the Secretariat of the ICGLR was established in Bujumbura, Burundi. Among the relevant protocols, one can cite the protocol of non-aggression and mutual defence in the region, on democracy and good governance, protocol on judicial cooperation, and the protocol on the crime of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity and all forms of discrimination, as well as the protocol on the Prevention and Punishment of Sexual Violence Against Women and Children (SGBV). For example, the implementation of the Protocol on Non-aggression and Mutual Defence results from the commitment of Member states to eradicate the hostile forces in the region, minimise interstate conflict by forging a common destiny around security issues. The main achievements here have been the neutralisation of FDLR and M23, the main actors in eastern DRC and the neighbouring countries. The April 2002 Sun City Agreement, the ensuing July 2002 Pretoria Accord between Rwanda and Congo, and the Luanda Agreement between Uganda and Congo put an official end to the war as the Transitional Government of DRC took power in July 2003(Eastern Congo Initiative, 2021). From 2009 onwards, the Mission de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en République Démocratique du Congo (MONUSCO, United Nations Mission for Stabilization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), has collaborated more actively with the FARDC than in the past, providing logistical and other support to its military operations. The presidential circle’s greater capacity to address major military threats has lessened the need to co-opt political-military entrepreneurs, which has induced a parallel decline of armed groups’ relevance in national politics (Verweijen, 2016, p.38).

Nevertheless, the prospects for voluntary repatriation are in a fog (KII 30 08 2021). After the deadly demonstration of refugees in Kiziba Camp, about 1,000 refugees have expressed a willingness to return to the country of origin during the verification exercise conducted in 2018/2019. The volatility of political situations in DRC has caused a lack of voluntary return, so stakeholders did not promote and facilitate voluntary repatriation (KII 30 08 2021). Due to state institutions and rampant corruption, efforts to meet preconditions for a safe and dignified return in DRC have not yielded satisfactory results (Reyntjens, 2001). During Desire Kabila’s reign, the DRC has slightly improved in response to government transition initiatives and internationally supervised peace processes. It is primarily due to his inability to establish a strong central government and control territory, citizenry, and armed factions (Reyntjens, 2007).

The Congolese refugees living in Rwanda originate from several areas of North and South Kivu. According to a UNHCR return intention survey in 2007, 80% of registered Congolese refugees in Rwanda want to return to DRC. The primary determinant is the level of security in return areas. The refugees themselves state that the presence of armed groups of Rwandan Hutu refugees in DRC was the cause of their flight (Lange, 2010, p.48). Notwithstanding the reluctance to return, coupled with the complexity of the circumstances on the ground, an official repatriation process took place after a tripartite agreement signed on 17 February 2010 on voluntary repatriation between UNHCR and the governments of Rwanda and the DRC (Sylla, 2010). The signing of the tripartite agreement followed closely on the heels of the March 2009 signing of a peace accord between the DRC government and the CNDP, in which one of the principal demands of the CNDP was the return of members of the Congolese Tutsi community that they claimed to represent[5]. Feelings of hostility towards the idea of their “return” are widespread, with many communities and local leaders in North Kivu claiming that they are, in fact, Rwandan. Indeed, some commentators have accused UN agencies operating in North Kivu of promoting Rwandan encroachment on Congolese territory by facilitating their return (Sylla, 2010). Many people firmly believe that Rwandan citizens mix themselves with returning refugees to escape land scarcity in Rwanda and ‘occupy’ North Kivu (Lange, 2010, p.49). It brings back the nationality challenge in a debate; their return would not be safe and dignified. Also, even if the government restored citizenship fully, the return hinges on their ability to successfully access land rights, survival, and livelihood. However, evidence shows that without legal reforms to accept the Banyarwanda as Congolese, they will remain de facto and de jure stateless until they acquire nationality in Rwanda or the resettlement country (Lange, 2010, p.49).

In 2021, after the eruption of Nyiragongo Volcano in eastern DRC, thousands of Congolese refugees sought shelter in Rwanda (Save the Children, 2021). Tshisekedi and Kagame met in Goma and Rubavu to assess the damage caused, chat about the new future. They presided over signing several agreements linking the two countries (AfricaNews, 2021), including a double taxation avoidance agreement, an MoU on a mining concession, and a bilateral investment treaty (Karuhanga, 2021). Speaking during a press conference, the two heads of State expressed the need for friendly and fraternal relations between the two countries (Brown, 2021). While security and economic cooperation are indirect preconditions to refugees’ durable solutions, the repatriation of Congolese refugees in Rwanda did not appear on the agenda. Voluntary repatriation, therefore, remains a dream since many preconditions are not yet in place.

4.2. Resettlement: A Popular Solution

For Congolese refugees in Rwanda, resettlement has been the most preferred durable solution (KII 30 08 2021); below are resettlement statistics:

Figure 1: Resettlement Trends for Congolese (DRC) Refugees 2014-2021 [Source: Data are available at:

There have been thousands of refugees resettled, mainly in the USA. However, since President Trump took office, the asylum policy has drastically changed, affecting the successful departures to the USA, the leading resettlement country, which leaves only voluntary repatriation and local integration the most pragmatic solutions (KII 30 08 2021).

There are challenges to resettlement as a durable solution: First, most Congolese refugees are exclusively interested in resettlement other than pursuing voluntary repatriation and local integration even without meeting the criteria of resettlement countries. This attitude has a counterproductive effect; they resist any other effort to protect their socio-economic rights, such as livelihoods and education. Second, the USA remains the leading resettlement country, making it impossible to absorb all resettlement submissions. While there is hope for increased resettlement quotas under Biden’s administration, there is a need for international responsibility-sharing among other States with fewer refugee burdens. Third, the situation for Congolese refugees has lasted for more than 25 years. It is no longer a priority for donors, given emerging crises around the world. Unfortunately, the situation in their motherland remains in limbo, despite the heavy investments in the largest peacekeeping operation since the 1990s. It implies that resettlement alone does not suffice to resolve a protracted situation. In the light of GCR, it is high time for the international community to work with regional bodies to bring about sustainable peace in DRC as a precondition to voluntary repatriation.

4.3. Local Integration: A Window of Opportunities?

The Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda accommodates dual nationality (Article 25). However, it may be difficult for the Congolese because the Constitution does not accept dual citizenship (DRC, 2011). One becomes a Rwandan national by origin (The Republic of Rwanda, 2021, Article 6) or by acquisition (Article 3).  The new nationality law stipulates grounds for applying for or granting Rwandan nationality by acquisition: they include birth on the territory of Rwanda  (Article 9), marriage (Article 11), foundling (Article 10), adoption (Article 12), national interest (Article 13), special skills or talent (Article 14), substantial, sustainable investments or activities (Article 15), residence in Rwanda (Article 16), honour (Article 17), being an immigrant (Article 18), and statelessness (Article 19). All these grounds have the potential to help explore local integration and naturalisation for refugees on Rwandan territory. It would require UNHCR and protection partners to work with the proper government authorities to jot down these opportunities, inform refugees, and assist individual applicants who may be interested.

Naturalisation is the culmination deriving from local integration. Before one naturalises, one may have permanent residence or another long-term immigration status. The law on immigration and emigration provides temporary and permanent residence permits to foreigners in Rwanda.[6] In order to acquire a residence permit, a person must possess a valid travel document, a national identity card where applicable “or any other relevant document agreed upon in bilateral or multilateral agreements[7] [8].” A temporary residence permit is valid for only three years; sub-categories apply to different occupations, including self-employment in a business and employment contract[9]. A permanent residence permit may be accessible to a foreigner and dependents who have been lawfully resident for ten years, to Rwandans in diaspora residing in a country that does not permit dual nationality, spouses, and “to a foreigner in need of protection due to their circumstances or circumstances beyond their control[10].”  Residents who are not refugees are issued identity documents and may also be issued travel documents if they cannot acquire a travel document from the country of origin or are stateless[11]. A unique travel authorisation is available to Rwandans or legal residents, allowing them to travel to the Communauté économique des pays des Grands Lacs, following agreements signed among those countries (DRC, Burundi and Rwanda)[12].

Besides legal opportunities and challenges, around 95% of refugees on Rwandan territory have a shared socio-cultural background with Rwandans (KII 30 08 2021). Refugees living in camps and urban areas have built social, economic, and family ties with the host community, facilitating refugees’ social and economic integration in Rwanda and hopefully achieving legal integration through marriage with a Rwandan and naturalisation. Between 2020 and September 2021, 346 Congolese and Burundian refugees, majority Burundians, have been de-registered and obtained Rwandan alternative legal status in the country. However, there are no official statistics of local integration (KII 18 08 2021).

  1. Final Reflection

This paper has reviewed durable solutions from the 1951 Refugee Convention and extant literature. It has also explored the situation surrounding every durable solution. Evidence indicates that only resettlement has gained traction and has remained the most durable solution for most Congolese refugees. With the recent changes in the nationality law in Rwanda, the paper submits that there are opportunities at a legal and operational level. However, the paper observes no sufficient official evidence of whether some refugees successfully pursued this venue. Further work is necessary to identify opportunities, make refugees aware of such opportunities, and support them in making the right choices and accompanying them as they pursue their opportunities.


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[1] United Nations Development Programme, “Human Development Report. Work for Human Development.”

[2] These camps include Kiziba founded in December 1996, Kigeme founded in June 2012, Mugombwa founded in 2014, and Nyabiheke founded in April 2005. Gihembe was recently closed due to environmental hazards. Refugees who lived there had an opportunity to opt for reinstallation in another camp or becoming urban refugees.

[3] In the Rwandan context, urban refugees include every refugee who, for purposes of the census, is officially known to reside outside the refugee camp, and ideally receives less support than those who live in camps.

[4] The GCR is not legally binding, it cannot be enforceable; it does not observe the pacta sunt servanda principle. However, it represents the political will and ambition of the international community for strengthened cooperation and solidarity with refugees and affected host countries. It will be operationalised through voluntary contributions to achieve collective outcomes and progress towards its objectives. These contributions will be determined by each State and relevant stakeholder, considering their national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respecting national policies and priorities.

[5] The Tripartite Agreement signed by UNHCR and the Governments of Rwanda and DRC contains references in its preamble to the Lusaka Ceasefire and Humanitarian Protocol of 1999; the Nairobi Communiqué of November 9, 2007 (Governments of DRC and Rwanda); the decisions of the Conference on Peace, Security and Development of the provinces of North and South Kivu of 23 January 2008; and the various agreements entered into by the Government of DRC with the CNDP and armed groups in South and North Kivu of 23 March 2009.

[6] Law No 57/2018 on immigration and Emigration, art.8.

[7] Law No 57/2018 of 13/08/2018 on immigration and emigration in Rwanda, supplemented by Ministerial Order N°06/01 of 29/05/2019 relating to Immigration and Emigration.

[8] Law No 57/2018 on immigration and Emigration, art.4(2).

[9] Ministerial Order N°06/01 of 29/05/2019 relating to Immigration and Emigration, annex II.

[10] Ministerial Order N°06/01 of 29/05/2019 relating to Immigration and Emigration, art. 20. See also

[11] Law No 57/2018 on immigration and Emigration, art.24; Ministerial Order N°06/01 of 29/05/2019 relating to Immigration and Emigration, arts.23 & 33.

[12] Law No 57/2018 on immigration and Emigration, art.21.

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